Hesperetin is a natural flavonoid with robust antioxidant properties. Our previous study reported that hesperetin can prevent cataract formation. However, an important consideration regarding hesperetin consumption is the limited bioavailability due to its poor solubility. The present study investigated the anti-cataract effects of α-glucosyl hesperidin in vivo and in vitro using a selenite-induced cataract model. SD rats (age, 13 days) were orally administered PBS (0.2 ml) or α-glucosyl hesperidin (200 mg/kg) on days 0, 1 and 2. Sodium selenite was subcutaneously administered to the rats 4 h after the first oral administration on day 0. Antioxidant levels in the lens and blood were measured on day 6. In vitro, human lens epithelial cells were treated with sodium selenite (10 μM) and/or hesperetin (50 or 100 mM) for 24 h and analyzed for apoptosis markers using sub-G1 population and Annexin V-FITC/propidium iodide staining and DNA ladder formation. α-glucosyl hesperidin treatment significantly reduced the severity of selenite-induced cataract. The level of antioxidants was significantly reduced in the selenite-treated rats compared with in the controls; however, they were normalized with α-glucosyl hesperidin treatment. In vitro, hesperetin could significantly reduce the number of cells undergoing apoptosis induced by sodium selenite in human lens epithelial cell lines. Overall, oral consumption of α-glucosyl hesperidin could delay the onset of selenite-induced cataract, at least in part by modulating the selenite-induced cell death in lens epithelial cells.
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