Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor, is involved in retinal vascular dysregulation and oxidative stress in glaucomatous eyes. Taurine (TAU), a naturally occurring free amino acid, is known for its neuroprotective and antioxidant properties. Hence, we evaluated its neuroprotective properties against ET-1 induced retinal and optic nerve damage. ET-1 was administered intravitreally to Sprague-Dawley rats and TAU was injected as pre-, co- or post-treatment. Animals were euthanized seven days post TAU injection. Retinae and optic nerve were examined for morphology, and were also processed for caspase-3 immunostaining. Retinal redox status was estimated by measuring retinal superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione, and malondialdehyde levels using enzyme-linked immuosorbent assay. Histopathological examination showed significantly improved retinal and optic nerve morphology in TAU-treated groups. Morphometric examination showed that TAU pre-treatment provided marked protection against ET-1 induced damage to retina and optic nerve. In accordance with the morphological observations, immunostaining for caspase showed a significantly lesser number of apoptotic retinal cells in the TAU pre-treatment group. The retinal oxidative stress was reduced in all TAU-treated groups, and particularly in the pre-treatment group. The findings suggest that treatment with TAU, particularly pre-treatment, prevents apoptosis of retinal cells induced by ET-1 and hence prevents the changes in the morphology of retina and optic nerve. The protective effect of TAU against ET-1 induced retinal and optic nerve damage is associated with reduced retinal oxidative stress.
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