Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is used worldwide as medicine for improving the health of the human eye without adequate clinical trials. The plant is native to Europe and North America. The polyphenols, such as flavonoids and anthocyanins, are important in bilberry and may be the reason for bilberry’s health benefits.
Previous studies have shown inconsistent results. The present study was done to evaluate different concentrations of bilberry on cultured HCLEC. The epithelial cells are important in healing of the cornea and in protecting the eye from external attack. Proliferation of corneal epithelial cells promotes healing of the corneal epithelium at different concentrations and for different periods of time.
In this study, an established HCLEC line was used to study the effects of bilberry extract on cell growth, cell cycles and the production of hyaluronic acid and other glycosaminoglycans.
There is some evidence that bilberry extract could increase cell mitosis and cell division which would promote wound healing. Perhaps, bilberry can be used topically in the future to promote corneal healing for corneal abrasions.
The result of this study was that bilberry extract was found to produce beneficial proliferation rather than cytotoxicity in the corneal cells. Glycosaminoglycans were produced by the corneal cells after treatment with bilberry for 48 hours. Hyaluronic acid production was not altered. No significant toxicity was found. Hyaluronic acid can likely be used topically in dry eye syndrome and for Sjogren’s syndrome.
CONCLUSION: The above findings indicate that bilberry extract may be beneficial to maintain the health of corneal cells of the human eye.
Read about the ability of bilberry extract to block the growth of new blood vessels in eye disease.
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