Neuroprotective effects of citicoline in in vitro models of retinal neurodegeneration

Andrea Matteucci, Monica Varano, Lucia Gaddini, Cinzia Mallozzi, Marika Villa, Flavia Pricci, Fiorella Malchiodi-Albedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, citicoline has been the object of remarkable interest as a possible neuroprotectant. The aim of this study was to investigate if citicoline affected cell survival in primary retinal cultures and if it exerted neuroprotective activity in conditions modeling retinal neurodegeneration. Primary retinal cultures, obtained from rat embryos, were first treated with increasing concentrations of citicoline (up to 1000 μM) and analyzed in terms of apoptosis and caspase activation and characterized by immunocytochemistry to identify neuronal and glial cells. Subsequently, excitotoxic concentration of glutamate or High Glucose-containing cell culture medium (HG) was administered as well-known conditions modeling neurodegeneration. Glutamate or HG treatments were performed in the presence or not of citicoline. Neuronal degeneration was evaluated in terms of apoptosis and loss of synapses. The results showed that citicoline did not cause any damage to the retinal neuroglial population up to 1000 μM. At the concentration of 100 μM, it was able to counteract neuronal cell damage both in glutamate-and HG-treated retinal cultures by decreasing proapoptotic effects and contrasting synapse loss. These data confirm that citicoline can efficiently exert a neuroprotective activity. In addition, the results suggest that primary retinal cultures, under conditions inducing neurodegeneration, may represent a useful system to investigate citicoline neuroprotective mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6286-6297
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 14 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Citicoline
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glaucoma
  • Neuroprotection
  • Primary retinal cultures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medicine(all)


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