Increased global incidence of myopia necessitates establishment of therapeutic approaches against its progression. To explore agents which may control myopia, we screened 207 types of natural compounds and chemical reagents based on an activity of a myopia suppressive factor, early growth response protein 1 (Egr-1) in vitro. Among the candidates, crocetin showed the highest and dose-dependent activation of Egr-1. For in vivo analysis, experimental myopia was induced in 3-week-old C57BL/6 J mice with −30 diopter (D) lenses for 3 weeks. Animals were fed with normal or mixed chow containing 0.003% (n = 19) and 0.03% (n = 7) of crocetin during myopia induction. Refraction and axial length were measured at 3-week-old and the 6-week-old with an infrared photorefractor and a SD-OCT system. Compared to controls (n = 14), crocetin administration showed a significant smaller change of refractive errors (−13.62 ± 8.14 vs +0.82 ± 5.81 D for 0.003%, p < 0.01, −2.00 ± 4.52 D for 0.03%, p < 0.01) and axial elongation (0.27 ± 0.03 vs 0.22 ± 0.04 mm for 0.003%, p < 0.01, 0.23 ± 0.05 mm for 0.03%, p < 0.05). These results suggest that a dietary factor crocetin may have a preventive effect against myopia progression.
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