Retinal ischemia and oxidative stress lead to neuronal death in many ocular pathologies. Recently, we found that lutein, an oxy-carotenoid, protected the inner retina from ischemia/reperfusion injury. However, it is uncertain whether lutein directly protects retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Here, an in vitro model of hypoxia and oxidative stress was used to further investigate the neuroprotective role of lutein in RGCs. Cobalt chloride (CoCl2) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) were added to a transformed RGC cell line, RGC-5, to induce chemical hypoxia and oxidative stress, respectively. Either lutein or vehicle was added to cultured cells. A higher cell count was observed in the lutein-treated cells compared with the vehicle-treated cells. Our data from this in vitro model revealed that lutein might protect RGC-5 cells from damage when exposed to either CoCl2-induced chemical hypoxia or H2O2-induced oxidative stress. These results suggest that lutein may play a role as a neuroprotectant
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