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Caffeine Protects Against Retinal Inflammation

F Conti et al, 2022.
Frontiers in Pharmacology, published online.
January 26, 2022


Caffeine, one of the most consumed central nervous system(CNS) stimulants, is an antagonist of A1 and A2A adenosine receptors. In this study, we investigated the potential protective effects of this methylxanthine in the retinal tissue. We tested caffeine by using invitro and in vivo paradigms of retinal inflammation. Human retinal pigment epithelial cells (ARPE-19) were exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with or without caffeine. This latter was able to reduce the inflammatory response in ARPE-19 cells exposed to LPS, attenuating the release of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α and the nuclear translocation of p-NFκB.Additionally, caffeine treatment restored the integrity of the ARPE-19monolayer assessed by transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and the sodium fluorescein permeability test. Finally, the ischemia reperfusion (I/R) injury model was used in C57BL/6J mice to induce retinal inflammation and investigate the effects of caffeine treatment. Mouse eyes were treated topically with caffeine, and a pattern electroretinogram (PERG) was used to assess the retinal ganglion cell (RGC) function; furthermore, we evaluated the levels of IL-6 and BDNF in the retina. Retinal BDNF dropped significantly (p <0.05) in the I/R group compared to the control group (normal mice); on the contrary, caffeine treatment maintained physiological levels of BDNF in the retina of I/R eyes. Caffeine was also able to reduce IL-6 mRNA levels in the retina of I/R eyes. In conclusion, these findings suggest that caffeine is a good candidate to counteract inflammation in retinal diseases.


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