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The neurobiology of nutraceuticals combined with light exposure, a case report in the course of retinal degeneration.

R. Pinelli, M. Bertelli, E. Scaffidi, V. V. Bumah, F. Biagioni, C. L. Busceti, S. Puglisi-Allegra, F. Fornai


The present article presents a case report and discusses the neurobiology underlying the potential neuro-repair induced by combined administration of phytochemicals in a patient undergoing photo-bio-modulation (PBM), which improves anatomical and clinical abnormalities in the course of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). After combined treatments the patient with nutraceuticals and PBM had noticeable improvement of retinal tissue with excellent vision for her age and no worsening of corneal guttae, which was present at the time of diagnosis. The present treatment was tailored, based on translational evidence, to improve the autophagy pathway, which is a key determinant in the onset and progression of AMD. In fact, treatment with specific patterns of light exposure combined with specific phytochemicals, may synergize in improving the microanatomy of the retina by restoring its neurobiology. The combination of light exposure, at selective wavelengths, with the effects produced by the intake of specific phytochemicals to treat AMD is reported here as “Lugano Protocol”. Such a clinical protocol represents an “in progress” development backed up by translational research. In fact, recent evidence indicates that, specific phytochemicals, when administered in combination may promote anatomical and functional integrity within the retina. These in turn synergize with analogous effects produced by specific wavelengths, when administered at specific time intervals. The synergism between specific light and combined phytochemicals is discussed at molecular level, where recent data indicate how these treatments, when delivered according to specific patterns, may enhance autophagy in the retina. The improvement of retinal morphology and visual acuity, observed in this case report is thoroughly discussed in the light of the key role of autophagy in regulating the integrity of the retinal epithelium. Despite exciting, and consistent with translational evidence, the clinical report of a disease modifying effect during AMD owns the inherent limit of a case report, which requires wide validation in large number of patients. The potential effectiveness of “Lugano protocol” may apply to other types of retinal degenerations, where common alterations in the autophagy pathway do occur. Thus, such a therapeutic approach may extend to a common late stage of retinal trans-synaptic degeneration, where maladaptive plasticity during several types of retinal degenerative disorders eventually converge.


photo-bio-modulation; resveratrol; lutein; Vaccinium myrtillus; bilberry; autophagy; mitochondria; mitophagy; -amyloid; age-related macular degeneration; retinal pigment epithelium; drusen.

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