Beating blindness with vegetable oil

Beating blindness with vegetable oil

Scientists working at the Research Center on Aging at the Health and Social Services Centre—University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke (CSSS-IUGS) have been studying strategies for protecting retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. Dysfunction of the RPE is found in retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness of elderly people in developed countries.

Findings published today in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology suggest that incubating with vegetable oils induces biochemical and biophysical changes in the cell membrane, which may have a beneficial effect in preventing or slowing the development of retinopathy.

"Membrane fluidity, which refers to the viscosity of the lipid bi-layer of a cell membrane, is a marker of the cell function," explained Prof. A. Khalil, professor at the Université de Sherbrooke and principal investigator of the study. "A decrease of membrane fluidity can affect the rotation and diffusion of proteins and other bio-molecules within the membrane, thereby affecting the functions of these molecules. Whereas, an increase in membrane fluidity makes for a more flexible membrane and facilitates the transmission of light through the eye."

The researchers discovered that vegetable oil fatty acids incorporate in and increase the plasma membrane fluidity. They concluded that a diet low in trans-unsaturated fats and rich in omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil may reduce the risk of retinopathy. In addition, the research suggests that replacing the neutral oil used in eye drops with oil that possesses valuable biological properties for the eye could also contribute to the prevention of retina diseases.

More information: This article "Effects of vegetable oils on biochemical and biophysical properties of membrane retinal pigment epithelium cells" is published today in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. DOI: 10.1139/cjpp-2013-0036

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spicing up your fish fillets with science

Aug 14, 2013

The health benefits of consuming omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are well established. The primary sources of these fatty acids in the human diet are through fish and seafood. Researchers ...

Pathway for membrane building blocks

Jan 30, 2013

Biomembranes consist of a mosaic of individual, densely packed lipid molecules. These molecules are formed inside the cells. But how do these building blocks move to the correct part of the membrane? Researchers ...

Proteins hoist the anchor

Aug 05, 2013

Researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and from the MPI Dortmund have for the first time successfully reproduced the recycling process of proteins regulating cellular transport in a biophysical ...

Grapes may help prevent age-related blindness

Jan 12, 2012

Can eating grapes slow or help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a debilitating condition affecting millions of elderly people worldwide? Results from a new study published in Free Radical Biology an ...

Recommended for you

Simple test could detect serious eye condition early

Aug 28, 2014

A simple colour test that could detect the early onset of a condition which accounts for over half of visual impairment certifications in the UK is being researched by scientists at Aston University.

Yellow pigment in eye may aid vision through haze

Aug 25, 2014

Individuals with greater amounts of yellow pigment in the eye may be better able to see distant objects in hazy conditions, suggests a study in the September issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the A ...

New DNA test for diagnosing diseases linked to childhood blindness

Aug 21, 2014

Researchers in the United Kingdom have demonstrated that advanced DNA testing for congenital cataracts can quickly and accurately diagnose a number of rare diseases marked by childhood blindness, according to a study published online today in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy o ...

User comments