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Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 430596, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/430596
Review Article

Palmitoylethanolamide, a Natural Retinoprotectant: Its Putative Relevance for the Treatment of Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy

1University of Witten/Herdecke, Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50, 58448 Witten, Germany
2Institute of Neuropathic Pain, Vespuccistraat 64-III, 1056 SN Amsterdam, Netherlands
3Università degli Studi del Molise, Via Francesco De Sanctis, No. 1, 86100 Campobasso, Italy
4Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, American University of Beirut, P.O. Box 110236, Beirut, Lebanon

Received 26 August 2015; Revised 11 October 2015; Accepted 1 November 2015

Academic Editor: Colin Clement

Copyright © 2015 Jan M. Keppel Hesselink et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Retinopathy is a threat to the eyesight, and glaucoma and diabetes are the main causes for the damage of retinal cells. Recent insights pointed out a common pathogenetic pathway for both disorders, based on chronic inflammation. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is an endogenous cell protective lipid. Since its discovery in 1957 as a biologically active component in foods and in many living organisms, around 500 scientific papers have been published on PEA’s anti-inflammatory and neuron-protective properties. PEA has been evaluated for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and uveitis, pathological states based on chronic inflammation, respiratory disorders, and various pain syndromes in a number of clinical trials since the 70s of 20th century. PEA is available as a food supplement (PeaPure) and as diet food for medical purposes in Italy (Normast, PeaVera, and Visimast). These products are notified in Italy for the nutritional support in glaucoma and neuroinflammation. PEA has been tested in at least 9 double blind placebo controlled studies, among which two studies were in glaucoma, and found to be safe and effective up to 1.8 g/day, with excellent tolerability. PEA therefore holds a promise in the treatment of a number of retinopathies. We discuss PEA as a putative anti-inflammatory and retinoprotectant compound in the treatment of retinopathies, especially related to glaucoma and diabetes.