Animal Evidence That Dietary Supplement May Help Prevent, Treat Cataracts

New evidence, obtained in a rat model, supports earlier suggestions that the dietary supplement carnosine might be effective in preventing and treating cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye and are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. Cataracts develop when the main structural protein in the lens, alpha-crystallin, forms abnormal clumps. The clumps make the lens cloudy and impair vision. Previous studies had hinted that carnosine might help block the formation of these clumps. In the current work, scientists from the University of Catania in Italy, and colleagues, exposed tissue cultures of healthy rat lenses to either guanidine, a substance known to induce the formation of cataracts, or to a combination of guanidine and carnosine. The guanidine lenses became completely cloudy, while the guanidine/carnosine lenses developed 50 to 60 percent less cloudiness. Carnosine also restored most of the clarity to clouded lenses. The results demonstrate the potential of using carnosine for preventing and treating cataracts, the scientists said. The study is scheduled to be published in the July 28 edition of Biochemistry. [Press release]
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