Hypericin-mediated photooxidative damage of α-crystallin in human lens epithelial cells.


Authors: Ehrenshaft M, Roberts JE, Mason RP
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), a perennial herb native to Europe, is widely used for and seems to be effective in treatment of mild to moderate depression. Hypericin, a singlet oxygen-generating photosensitizer that absorbs in both the visible and the UVA range, is considered to be one of the bioactive ingredients of St. John’s wort, and commercial preparations are frequently calibrated to contain a standard concentration. Hypericin can accumulate in ocular tissues, including lenses, and can bind in vitro to α-crystallin, a major lens protein. α-crystallin is required for lens transparency and also acts as a chaperone to ensure its own integrity and the integrity of all lens proteins. Because there is no crystallin tur…