Different experimental approaches in modelling cataractogenesis
Cataract, the opacification of eye lens, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. At present, the only remedy is surgical removal of the cataractous lens and substitution with a lens made of synthetic polymers. However, besides significant costs of operation and possible complications, an artificial lens just does not have the overall optical qualities of a normal one. Hence it remains a significant public health problem, and biochemical solutions or pharmacological interventions that will maintain the transparency of the lens are highly required. Naturally, there is a persistent demand for suitable biological models. The ocular lens would appear to be an ideal organ for maintaining culture conditions because of lacking blood vessels and nerves. The lens in vivo obtains its nutrients and eliminates waste products via diffusion with the surrounding fluids. Lens opacification observed in vivo can be mimicked in vitro by addition of the cataractogenic agent sodium selenite (Na2SeO3) to the culture medium. Moreover, since an overdose of sodium selenite induces also cataract in young rats, it became an extremely rapid and convenient model of nuclear cataract in vivo. The main focus of this review will be on selenium (Se) and its salt sodium selenite, their toxicological characteristics and safety data in relevance of modelling cataractogenesis, either under in vivo or in vitro conditions. The studies revealing the mechanisms of lens opacification induced by selenite are highlighted, the representatives from screening for potential anti-cataract agents are listed.
Toxicological aspects of the use of phenolic compounds in disease prevention
The consumption of a diet low in fat and enhanced by fruits and vegetables, especially rich in phenolic compounds, may reduce risks of many civilization diseases. The use of traditional medicines, mainly derived from plant sources, has become an attractive segment in the management of many lifestyle diseases. Concerning the application of dietary supplements (based on phenolic compounds) in common practice, the ongoing debate over possible adverse effects of certain nutrients and dosage levels is of great importance. Since dietary supplements are not classified as drugs, their potential toxicities and interactions have not been thoroughly evaluated. First, this review will introduce phenolic compounds as natural substances beneficial for human health. Second, the potential dual mode of action of flavonoids will be outlined. Third, potential deleterious impacts of phenolic compounds utilization will be discussed: pro-oxidant and estrogenic activities, cancerogenic potential, cytotoxic effects, apoptosis induction and flavonoid-drug interaction. Finally, future trends within the research field will be indicated.
Protection of the vascular endothelium in experimental situations
One of the factors proposed as mediators of vascular dysfunction observed in diabetes is the increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This provides support for the use of antioxidants as early and appropriate pharmacological intervention in the development of late diabetic complications. In streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes in rats we observed endothelial dysfuction manifested by reduced endothelium-dependent response to acetylcholine of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and aorta, as well as by increased endothelaemia. Changes in endothelium-dependent relaxation of SMA were induced by injury of the nitric oxide radical (·NO)-signalling pathway since the endothelium-derived hyperpolarising factor (EDHF)-component of relaxation was not impaired by diabetes. The endothelial dysfunction was accompanied by decreased ·NO bioavailabity as a consequence of reduced activity of eNOS rather than its reduced expression. The results obtained using the chemiluminiscence method (CL) argue for increased oxidative stress and increased ROS production. The enzyme NAD(P)H-oxidase problably participates in ROS production in the later phases of diabetes. Oxidative stress was also connected with decreased levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) in the early phase of diabetes. After 10 weeks of diabetes, adaptational mechanisms probably took place because GSH levels were not changed compared to controls. Antioxidant properties of SMe1EC2 found in vitro were partly confirmed in vivo. Administration of SMe1EC2 protected endothelial function. It significantly decreased endothelaemia of diabetic rats and improved endothelium-dependent relaxation of arteries, slightly decreased ROS-production and increased bioavailability of ·NO in the aorta. Further studies with higher doses of SMe1EC2 may clarify the mechanism of its endothelium-protective effect in vivo.