Delay of cone degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa using a 12-month treatment with Lycium barbarum supplement

Henry Ho lung Chan, Hang i. Lam, Kai yip Choi, Serena Zhe chuang Li, Yamunadevi Lakshmanan, Wing yan Yu, Raymond Chuen chung Chang, Jimmy Shiu ming Lai, Kwok fai So

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Lycium barbarum L. (also known as “Goji berry”), a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, has been a common herb in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia for centuries. The main active component is the Lycium barbarum polysaccharides and its antioxidative effect has been widely shown to provide neuroprotection to the eye, and it would, therefore, be interesting to determine if Lycium barbarum help delay vision deterioration in patients with retinitis pigmentosa. Aim of the study: Cone rescue is a potential method for delaying deterioration of visual function in Retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This study aimed to investigate the treatment effect of Lycium barbarum L. (LB) supplement on retinal functions and structure in RP patients after a 12-month intervention trial. Methods: The investigation was a double-masked and placebo-controlled clinical study. Each of forty-two RP subjects who completed the 12-month intervention (23 and 19 in the treatment and placebo groups respectively) received a daily supply of LB or placebo granules for oral administration. The primary outcome was change of best corrected visual acuity (VA) (90% and 10% contrast) from the baseline to the end of treatment. The secondary outcomes were sensitivity changes of the central visual field, amplitude of full-field electroretinogram (ffERG) (including scotopic maximal response and photopic cone response), and average macular thickness. Results: The compliance rates for both groups exceeded 80%. There were no deteriorations of either 90% or 10% contrast VA in the LB group compared with the placebo group (p = 0.001). A thinning of macular layer was observed in the placebo group, which was not observed in the LB group (p = 0.008). However, no significant differences were found in the sensitivity of visual field or in any parameters of ffERG between the two groups. No significant adverse effects were reported in the treatment group. Conclusions: LB supplement provides a neuroprotective effect for the retina and could help delay or minimize cone degeneration in RP. Classifications: Clinical Studies (1.05). Trial registration: Identifier NCT02244996.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-344
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019


  • Antioxidant (2.084)
  • Clinical trial (2.172)
  • Lycium barbarum
  • Neuroprotection
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Traditional Chinese medicine (2.592)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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