Blueberry Component Pterostilbene Protects Corneal Epithelial Cells from Inflammation via Anti-oxidative Pathway

Jin Li, Ruzhi Deng, Xia Hua, Lili Zhang, Fan Lu, Terry G Coursey, Stephen C Pflugfelder, De-Quan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Blueberries have been recognized to possess protective properties from inflammation and various diseases, but not for eye and ocular disorders. This study explores potential benefits of pterostilbene (PS), a natural component of blueberries, in preventing ocular surface inflammation using an in vitro culture model of human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) exposed to hyperosmotic medium at 450 mOsM. Gene expression was detected by RT-qPCR, and protein production or activity was determined by ELISA, zymography, Western blotting and immunofluorescent staining. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was measured using DCFDA kit. The addition of PS significantly reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory mediators, TNF-α, IL-1 β, IL-6, MMP-2 and MMP-9 in HCECs exposed to hyperosmotic medium. Pre-treatment with PS (5 to 20 μM) suppressed ROS overproduction in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, PS significantly decreased the levels of oxidative damage biomarkers, malondialdehyde (MDA), 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), aconitase-2 and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG). Importantly, PS was found to rebalance homeostasis between oxygenases and anti-oxidative enzymes by decreasing cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) expression and restoring the activity of antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) and peroxiredoxin-4 (PRDX4) during hyperosmotic stress. Our findings demonstrate that PS protects human cornea from hyperosmolarity-induced inflammation and oxidative stress, suggesting protective effects of PS on dry eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19408
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - Jan 14 2016


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants/pharmacology
  • Blueberry Plants/chemistry
  • Cytokines/genetics
  • Epithelial Cells/drug effects
  • Epithelium, Corneal/cytology
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators/metabolism
  • Keratitis/drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Oxidation-Reduction/drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress/drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction/drug effects
  • Stilbenes/pharmacology
  • Young Adult


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