The central nervous system undergoing degeneration can be stabilized, and in some models can be restored to function, by neuroprotective treatments. Photobiomodulation (PBM) and dietary saffron are distinctive as neuroprotectants in that they upregulate protective mechanisms, without causing measurable tissue damage. This study reports a first attempt to combine the actions of PBM and saffron. Our working hypothesis was that the actions of PBM and saffron in protecting retinal photoreceptors, in a rat light damage model, would be additive. Results confirmed the neuroprotective potential of each used separately, but gave no evidence that their effects are additive. Detailed analysis suggests that there is actually a negative interaction between PBM and saffron when given simultaneously, with a consequent reduction of the neuroprotection. Specific testing will be required to understand the mechanisms involved and to establish whether there is clinical potential in combining neuroprotectants, to improve the quality of life of people affected by retinal pathology, such as age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness and visual impairment in older adults.
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