The Eyes Are The Windows To The Brain - Citicoline May Aid in the Fight Against Glaucoma

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About 20 years ago a San Francisco auto dealer took a snazzy new convertible for a test drive along Fisherman's Wharf as part of a television commercial.

In 1983 a 24-foot sailboat traveled a perilous 2,500 miles in 23 days from Honolulu to San Francisco with this same auto dealer at the helm.

In both cases there was something truly remarkable about the man who participated in these events. Hank Dekker was blind. He agreed to test drive the car at the urging of his advertising agency and he had taken up sailing only after losing his eyesight 10 years earlier. Dekker lost his vision to glaucoma when he was just 37.

Glaucoma, primarily associated with aging, is estimated to have affected more than two million people in the United States. About a quarter of the population with glaucoma are not even aware they have the disease.

Glaucoma is an insidious disease, taking its victims slowly and silently, damaging their eyes before they notice any symptoms. Glaucoma can usually be detected in time with regular eye examinations. In rare cases, glaucoma strikes quickly with acute pain, aggressively destroying vision within a few days if treatment is not received within 48 to 72 hours.

Glaucoma is a disease characterized by an increase in fluid pressure in the eyeball that occurs when the inflow is not adequately balanced by the outflow. This defect is caused by the deterioration in the composition of collagen, the most common protein in the body and the eye. Collagen provides the supportive structure for the component parts of the eye.

As the fluid pressure builds to abnormal levels, it damages the optic disk. This small, circular, visually insensitive region in the retina is where the fibers of the optic nerve emerge. Damage to this vital spot causes visual defects, notably a progressive loss of peripheral vision, which leads to tunnel vision. Eventually, if detected too late, glaucoma destroys vision completely and permanently.

It is rare that people under 40 contract glaucoma. However, glaucoma can be linked to nutritional deficiencies, including a lack of vitamin C in the retina and optic nerve and to excessive toxins and metabolic wastes in the body. While vitamin C plays a central role in ocular health because it is vital for the continuous synthesis of collagen, it is easily destroyed and must constantly be replenished. The up and coming c for eye health may be citicoline, which is commonly used as an agent to improve loss of consciousness due to head trauma and brain surgery.

Studies show citicoline is beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma is considered a neurodegenerative disease in which retinal ganglion cells slowly die.

Clinical trials have also found citicoline is a well-tolerated ingredient used in the pharmacotherapy of brain function insufficiency and other neurological disorders such as stroke, brain trauma, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research found citicoline treatment resulted in functional improvement in patient vision. Other reports indicate citicoline treatment may be beneficial in glaucoma. Citicoline is a natural precursor of cellular synthesis of phospholipids, mainly phosphatidylcholine. Enhancement of phospholipid synthesis may counteract neuron inefficiency and provide neuroprotection. Citicoline, when administered, undergoes a quick transformation to cytidine and choline, which crosses the blood brain barrier and enters brain cells separately to provide neuroprotection by enhancing phospholipid synthesis. A similar effect is expected to occur in glaucomatous retinal ganglion cells.

Furthermore, citicoline stimulates some brain neurotransmitter systems, including the system than contains dopamine. Dopamine is known as a major neurotransmitter in retina and post retinal visual pathways.

In 1998, at the University of Rome, a research group led by Vincenzo Parisi, M.D., evaluated the effects of citicoline on patients with glaucoma.

This 12-month study sought to confirm previous findings by using more sophisticated methods for evaluating visual functions. Forty patients at simple, primary and chronic stages of glaucoma took part in the study.

The group using 1000 mg of citicoline daily showed marked improvements in visual function during the treatment periods. Furthermore, no adverse side effects were reported with citicoline. Researchers concluded their results indicated a potential use for citicoline in medical treatment of glaucoma as a complement to hypotensive therapy.

Additional vision research using citicoline was conducted at the University of Bologna, Italy with adults who had amblyopia. Amblyopia is a dimness of sight without an apparent change in the eye structure. It has been known to be associated with toxic effects or dietary deficiencies in the body.

The study aimed to establish whether visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and visually evoked potentials changed after citicoline treatment. All study subjects taking citicoline showed improved vision in both eyes to different extents in all test categories.

Citicoline is a revolutionary alternative to phosphatidylcholine, according to Yutaka Ouchi, Kyowa Hakko U.S.A., Inc., based in New York. Citicoline has been used extensively for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders associated with stroke, cerebrovascular pathology, brain aging, stroke and head trauma. Numerous citicoline scientific studies have indicated effectiveness in treating Aizheimer's and Parkinson's disease and improved stroke recuperation, as well as glaucoma.

Research indicates citicoline has a targeted action for increasing brain phospholipid synthesis. Citicoline is absorbed as a form of its hydrolyzed products, uridine and choline within the brain; neuron cells convert uridine into cytidine, which reacts with choline to produce citicoline. Citicoline then moves into the metabolic pathway of phosphatidylcholine production in the brain.

Citicoline, when taken orally, crosses the blood-brain barrier and is incorporated into brain membrane lipids. Citicoline has been the subject of studies worldwide over the past two decades. In addition to neurological disorders, studies have also focused on cognitive function benefits.

It's easy to envision a whole new world would open up for those like Hank Dekker with proper medical evaluation and new citicoline treatment options.

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By Toshi Kamiya, Ph.D.

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