Wolfberry (fruit of Lycium barbarum Linn) has been known for balancing ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ in the body, nourishing the liver and kidney, improving visual acuity for more than 2,500 years in oriental countries. The active components in wolfberry include L. barbarum polysaccharide (LBP), zeaxanthine, betaine, cerebroside and trace amounts of zinc, iron, and copper. Each of them confers distinct beneficial effects and together they help to explain widespread use of wolfberry in the eastern world. Earlier study reported the neuroprotective effects of LBP on retinal ganglion cell (RGC) in an experimental model of glaucoma and the underlying in vivo cellular mechanisms of LBP neuroprotection deserve further exploration. In this study, we adopted proteomics, functional genomics, to evaluate pharmacological effects of LBP on the neuronal survival pathways. Among the significantly changed proteins induced by LBP feeding on ocular hypertension (OH) retinas, only proteins in crystallin family were focused in this study. The proteomic results were further confirmed using the Western blotting of the retinas and immunohistochemical staining of the retinal sections. We demonstrated that neuroprotective effect of—wolfberry extract—LBP on the survival of RGCs may be mediated via direct up-regulation of neuronal survival signal βB2-crystallin. J. Cell. Biochem. 110: 311–320, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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