Aster koraiensis extract (AKE) is a standard dietary herbal supplement. The aim of this study is to investigate the inhibitory effects of AKE on diabetes-induced retinal vascular dysfunction in Spontaneously Diabetic Torii (SDT) rats.
AKE (50 and 100 mg/kg body weight/day) was administered for 16 weeks. The effects of orally administered AKE on blood glucose levels, retinal vascular leakage, apoptosis, and accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the retina were evaluated.
SDT rats exhibited hyperglycemia and retinal vascular leakage, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining was clearly detected apoptosis in the retinal microvasculature. Immunofluorescence staining revealed the accumulation of AGEs in the retinal vasculature of the SDT rats. However, oral administration of AKE for 16 weeks blocked diabetes-induced blood–retinal barrier (BRB) breakdown and the loss of occludin, which is an important tight junction protein. Apoptosis of retinal vascular cells and AGE accumulation were significantly inhibited after AKE treatment.
These results indicate that, as a dietary herbal supplement, AKE may have beneficial effects on patients with diabetic retinopathy.