Vasoregression is a hallmark of vascular eye diseases but the mechanisms involved are still largely unknown. We have recently characterized a rat ciliopathy model which develops primary photoreceptor degeneration and secondary vasoregression. To improve the understanding of secondary vasoregression in retinal neurodegeneration, we used microarray techniques to compare gene expression profiles in this new model before and after retinal vasoregression. Differential gene expression was validated by quantitative RT-PCR, Western blot and immunofluorescence. Of the 157 genes regulated more than twofold, the MHC class II invariant chain CD74 yielded the strongest upregulation, and was allocated to activated microglial cells close to the vessels undergoing vasoregression. Pathway clustering identified genes of the immune system including inflammatory signaling, and components of the complement cascade upregulated during vasoregression. Together, our data suggest that microglial cells involved in retinal immune response participate in the initiation of vasoregression in the retina.
Retinal degeneration in transgenic rats that express a mutant cilia gene polycystin-2 (CMV-PKD2(1/703)HA) is characterized by initial photoreceptor degeneration and glial activation, followed by vasoregression and neuronal degeneration (Feng et al., 2009, PLoS One 4: e7328). It is unknown whether glial activation contributes to neurovascular degeneration after photoreceptor degeneration. We characterized the reactivity of Müller glial cells in retinas of rats that express defective polycystin-2.
Age-matched Sprague-Dawley rats served as control. Retinal slices were immunostained for intermediate filaments, the potassium channel Kir4.1, and aquaporins 1 and 4. The potassium conductance of isolated Müller cells was recorded by whole-cell patch clamping. The osmotic swelling characteristics of Müller cells were determined by superfusion of retinal slices with a hypoosmotic solution.
Müller cells in retinas of transgenic rats displayed upregulation of GFAP and nestin which was not observed in control cells. Whereas aquaporin-1 labeling of photoreceptor cells disappeared along with the degeneration of the cells, aquaporin-1 emerged in glial cells in the inner retina of transgenic rats. Aquaporin-4 was upregulated around degenerating photoreceptor cells. There was an age-dependent redistribution of Kir4.1 in retinas of transgenic rats, with a more even distribution along glial membranes and a downregulation of perivascular Kir4.1. Müller cells of transgenic rats displayed a slight decrease in their Kir conductance as compared to control. Müller cells in retinal tissues from transgenic rats swelled immediately under hypoosmotic stress; this was not observed in control cells. Osmotic swelling was induced by oxidative-nitrosative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammatory lipid mediators.
Cellular swelling suggests that the rapid water transport through Müller cells in response to osmotic stress is altered as compared to control. The dislocation of Kir4.1 will disturb the retinal potassium and water homeostasis, and osmotic generation of free radicals and inflammatory lipids may contribute to neurovascular injury.
Diabetic retinopathy (DRP) is a common complication caused by multiple biochemical abnormalities of the underlying metabolic disease. While the incidence of DRP appears to decline due to evidence-based changes in diabetes management, the predicted increase in patients affected in particular by type 2 diabetes may outweigh the positive trend. The diagnosis is based on the alterations of the vessels, usually indicating abnormalities of the blood–retinal barrier and increased vasoregression, but the neuroglial elements appear equally vulnerable to the diabetic condition. Control of blood glucose, blood pressure and timely identification of coincident nephropathy are important to prevent progression to vision-threatening stages. Guidelines give specific indications for laser photocoagulation, in particular when euglycemia is no longer effective in preventing progression to advanced stages. Intravitreal administration of antibodies directed against the single best characterized propagator of clinically significant macular edema, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), has become popular despite uncertainty about the patient subgroups which benefit best and the optimum administration schedule. Multifactorial intervention beyond glycemic control includes antihypertensive, lipid-lowering and antiaggregatory and is effective in type 2 diabetic patients with high-risk profiles, in particular coincident nephropathy.
biomarkers; cardiovascular risk; diabetic retinopathy; treatment
The polycystin family of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels form Ca2+ regulated cation channels with distinct subcellullar localizations and functions. As part of heteromultimeric channels and multi-protein complexes, polycystins control intracellular Ca2+ signals and more generally the translation of extracellular signals and stimuli to intracellular responses. Polycystin-2 channels have been cloned from retina, but their distribution and function in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) have not yet been established. In the present study, we determined cellular and subcellular localization as well as functional properties of polycystin-2 channels in RGCs. Polycystin-2 expression and distribution in RGCs was assessed by immunohistochemistry on vertical cryostat section of mouse retina as well as primary cultured mouse RGCs, using fluorescence microscopy. Biophysical and pharmacological properties of polycystin-2 channels isolated from primary cultured RGCs were determined using planar lipid bilayer electrophysiology. We detected polycystin-2 immunoreactivity both in the ganglion cell layer as well as in primary cultured RGCs. Subcellular analysis revealed strong cytosolic localization pattern of polycystin-2. Polycystin-2 channel current was Ca2+ activated, had a maximum slope conductance of 114 pS and could be blocked in a dose-dependent manner by increasing concentrations of Mg2+. The cytosolic localization of polycystin-2 in RGCs is in accordance with its function as intracellular Ca2+ release channel. We conclude that polycystin-2 forms functional channels in RGCs, of which biophysical and pharmacological properties are similar to polycystin-2 channels reported for other tissues and organisms. Our data suggest a potential role for polycystin-2 in RGC Ca2+ signaling.
polycystin; transient receptor potential channel; retinal ganglion cells; calcium; electrophysiology
Axotomy of central neurons leads to functional and structural alterations which largely revert when neural progenitor cells (NPCs) are implanted in the lesion site. The new microenvironment created by NPCs in the host tissue might modulate in the damaged neurons the expression of a high variety of molecules with relevant roles in the repair mechanisms, including neurotrophic factors. In the present work, we aimed to analyze changes in neurotrophic factor expression in axotomized neurons induced by NPC implants. For this purpose, we performed immunofluorescence followed by confocal microscopy analysis for the detection of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and nerve growth factor (NGF) on brainstem sections from rats with axotomy of abducens internuclear neurons that received NPC implants (implanted group) or vehicle injections (axotomized group) in the lesion site. Control abducens internuclear neurons were strongly immunoreactive to VEGF and BDNF but showed a weak staining for NT-3 and NGF. Comparisons between groups revealed that lesioned neurons from animals that received NPC implants showed a significant increase in VEGF content with respect to animals receiving vehicle injections. However, the immunoreactivity for BDNF, which was increased in the axotomized group as compared to control, was not modified in the implanted group. The modifications induced by NPC implants on VEGF and BDNF content were specific for the population of axotomized abducens internuclear neurons since the neighboring abducens motoneurons were not affected. Similar levels of NT-3 and NGF immunolabeling were obtained in injured neurons from axotomized and implanted animals. Among all the analyzed neurotrophic factors, only VEGF was expressed by the implanted cells in the lesion site. Our results point to a role of NPC implants in the modulation of neurotrophic factor expression by lesioned central neurons, which might contribute to the restorative effects of these implants.
There is considerable evidence from our lab and others for a functional link between β-adrenergic receptor and insulin receptor signaling pathways in retina. Furthermore, we hypothesize that this link may contribute to lesions similar to diabetic retinopathy in that the loss of adrenergic input observed in diabetic retinopathy may disrupt normal anti-apoptotic insulin signaling, leading to retinal cell death. Our studies included assessment of neural retina function (ERG), vascular degeneration, and Müller glial cells (which express only β1 and β2-adrenergic receptor subtypes). In the current study, we produced β2-adrenergic receptor knockout mice to examine this deletion on retinal neurons and vasculature, and to identify specific pathways through which β2-adrenergic receptor modulates insulin signaling. As predicted from our hypothesis, β2-adrenergic receptor knockout mice display certain features similar to diabetic retinopathy. In addition, loss of β2-adrenergic input resulted in an increase in TNFα, a key inhibitor of insulin receptor signaling. Increased TNFα may be associated with insulin-dependent production of the anti-apoptotic factor, Akt. Since the effects occurred in vivo under normal glucose conditions, we postulate that aspects of the diabetic retinopathy phenotype might be triggered by loss of β2-adrenergic receptor signaling.
The vasodegenerative phase of diabetic retinopathy is characterized by not only retinal vascular degeneration but also inadequate vascular repair due to compromised bone marrow derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). We propose that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) deficiency in diabetes results in activation of the central enzyme of sphingolipid metabolism, acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) and that ASM represents a molecular metabolic link connecting the initial damage in the retina and the dysfunction of EPCs.
Research Design and Methods
Type 2 diabetic rats on control or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-rich diet were studied. The number of acellular capillaries in the retinas was assessed by trypsin digest. mRNA levels of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 in the retinas from diabetic animals were compared to controls and ASM protein was assessed by western analysis. EPCs were isolated from blood and bone marrow and their numbers and ability to form colonies in vitro, ASM activity and lipid profiles were determined.
DHA-rich diet prevented diabetes-induced increase in the number of retinal acellular capillaries and significantly enhanced the life span of type 2 diabetic animals. DHA-rich diet blocked upregulation of ASM and other inflammatory markers in diabetic retina and prevented the increase in ASM activity in EPCs, normalized the numbers of circulating EPCs and improved EPC colony formation.
In a type 2 diabetes animal model, DHA-rich diet fully prevented retinal vascular pathology through inhibition of ASM in both retina and EPCs, leading to a concomitant suppression of retinal inflammation and correction of EPC number and function.
Recently, multiple neurotrophic/growth factors have been proposed to play an important role in the therapeutic action of antidepressants. In this study, we prepared astrocyte- and neuron-enriched cultures from the neonatal rat cortex, and examined the changes in neurotrophic/growth factor expression by antidepressant treatment using real-time PCR. Treatment with amitriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant) significantly increased the expression of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), brain-derived neurotrophic factor, vascular endothelial growth factor and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA with a different time course in astrocyte cultures, but not in neuron-enriched cultures. Only the expression of FGF-2 was higher in astrocyte cultures than in neuron-enriched cultures. We focused on the FGF-2 production in astrocytes. Several different classes of antidepressants, but not non-antidepressants, also induced FGF-2 mRNA expression. Noradrenaline (NA) is known to induce FGF-2 expression in astrocyte cultures, as with antidepressants. Therefore, we also assessed the mechanism of NA-induced FGF-2 expression, in comparison to amitriptyline. NA increased the FGF-2 mRNA expression via α1 and β-adrenergic receptors; however, the amitriptyline-induced FGF-2 mRNA expression was not mediated via these adrenergic receptors. Furthermore, the amitriptyline-induced FGF-2 mRNA expression was completely blocked by cycloheximide (an inhibitor of protein synthesis), while the NA-induced FGF-2 mRNA was not. These data suggest that the regulation of FGF-2 mRNA expression by amitriptyline was distinct from that by NA. Taken together, antidepressant-stimulated astrocytes may therefore be important mediators that produce several neurotrophic/growth factors, especially FGF-2, through a monoamine-independent and a de novo protein synthesis-dependent mechanism.
Inherited retinal degenerations afflict 1 in 3,500 individuals and are a heterogeneous group of diseases that result in profound vision loss, usually the result of retinal neuronal apoptosis. Atrophic changes in the retinal vasculature are also observed in many of these degenerations. While it is thought that this atrophy is secondary to diminished metabolic demand in the face of retinal degeneration, the precise relationship between the retinal neuronal and vascular degeneration is not clear. In this study we demonstrate that whenever a fraction of mouse or human adult bone marrow–derived stem cells (lineage-negative hematopoietic stem cells [Lin– HSCs]) containing endothelial precursors stabilizes and rescues retinal blood vessels that would ordinarily completely degenerate, a dramatic neurotrophic rescue effect is also observed. Retinal nuclear layers are preserved in 2 mouse models of retinal degeneration, rd1 and rd10, and detectable, albeit severely abnormal, electroretinogram recordings are observed in rescued mice at times when they are never observed in control-treated or untreated eyes. The normal mouse retina consists predominantly of rods, but the rescued cells after treatment with Lin– HSCs are nearly all cones. Microarray analysis of rescued retinas demonstrates significant upregulation of many antiapoptotic genes, including small heat shock proteins and transcription factors. These results suggest a new paradigm for thinking about the relationship between vasculature and associated retinal neuronal tissue as well as a potential treatment for delaying the progression of vision loss associated with retinal degeneration regardless of the underlying genetic defect.
Polycystin-1 (PC1) is a large, membrane-bound protein that localizes to the cilia and is implicated in the common ciliopathy autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease. The physiological function of PC1 is dependent upon its subcellular localization as well as specific cleavages that release soluble fragments of its C-terminal tail. The techniques described here allow visualization and quantification of these aspects of the biology of the PC1 protein. To visualize PC1 at the plasma membrane, a live-cell surface labeling immunofluorescence protocol paired with the labeling of an internal antigen motif allows a robust detection of the surface population of this protein. This technique is modified to generate a surface enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which quantitatively measures the amount of surface protein as a fraction of the total amount of the protein expressed in that cell population. These assays are powerful tools in the assessment of the small but biologically important pool of PC1 that reaches the cell surface. The C-terminal tail cleavage of PC1 constitutes an interesting modification that allows PC1 to extend its functional role into the nucleus. A reporter assay based on Gal4/VP16 luciferase can be used to quantitate the amount of PC1 C-terminal tail that reaches the nucleus. This assay can be paired with quantitative measurement of the protein expression in the cell, allowing a more complete understanding of the pattern of PC1 cleavage and the nuclear localization of the resultant.
Neuronal activity evokes localized changes in blood flow, a response termed neurovascular coupling. One widely recognized hypothesis of neurovascular coupling holds that glial cell depolarization evoked by neuronal activity leads to the release of K+ onto blood vessels (K+ siphoning) and to vessel relaxation. We now present two direct tests of this glial cell-K+ siphoning hypothesis of neurovascular coupling. Potassium efflux was evoked from glial cells in the rat retina by applying depolarizing current pulses to individual cells. Glial depolarizations as large as 100 mV produced no change in the diameter of adjacent arterioles. We also monitored light-evoked vascular responses in Kir4.1 knock-out mice, where functional Kir K+ channels are absent from retinal glial cells. The magnitude of light-evoked vasodilations was identical in Kir4.1 knock-out and wild-type animals. Contrary to the hypothesis, the results demonstrate that glial K+ siphoning in the retina does not contribute significantly to neurovascular coupling.
blood flow; glia; astrocytes; Müller cells; Kir4.1; potassium siphoning; retina
Iron accumulation is associated with age-related neurodegenerations and may contribute to age-related increased susceptibility of neurons to damage. We compared young and old rodent retinas to assess iron homeostasis during normal aging and the effects of increased iron on the susceptibility of retinal neurons to degeneration. Retinal iron was significantly increased with age. Quantitative RT-PCR showed that transferrin and ferritin genes were upregulated in the aged retina. At the protein level, we found decreased transferrin, and increased transferrin receptor, ferritin, ferroportin, and ceruloplasmin in the aged retina. These results support an increased steady state of iron with age in the retina. We tested susceptibility of retinal neurons with increased intracellular iron to damage in vitro. Exposure of RGC-5 cells to increased iron potentiated the neurotoxicity induced by paraquat, glutamate and TNF α. Our results demonstrate that iron homeostasis in the retina is altered with age and suggest that iron accumulation, due to altered levels of iron regulatory proteins in the aged retina, could be a susceptibility factor in age-related retinal diseases.
iron; aging; susceptibility; neurodegeneration; RGC-5; stress
Although primary cilia are increasingly recognized to play sensory roles in several cellular systems, their role in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) has not been defined. We examined in situ position/orientation of primary cilia and ciliary proteins in VSMCs and tested the hypothesis that primary cilia of VSMCs exert sensory functions. By immunofluorescence and electron microscopic imaging, primary cilia of VSMCs were positioned with their long axis aligned at 58.3° angle in relation to the cross-sectional plane of the artery, projecting into the extracellular matrix (ECM). Polycystin-1, polycystin-2 and α3- and β1-integrins are present in cilia. In scratch wound experiments, the majority of cilia were repositioned to the cell-wound interface. Such repositioning was largely abolished by a β1-integrin blocker. Moreover, compared to non-ciliated/deciliated cells, ciliated VSMCs showed more efficient migration in wound repair. Lastly, when directly stimulated with collagen (an ECM component and cognate ligand for α3β1-integrins) or induced ciliary deflection, VSMCs responded with a rise in [Ca2+]i that is dependent on the presence of cilia. Taken together, primary cilia of VSMCs are preferentially oriented, possess proteins critical for cell-ECM interaction and mechanosensing and respond to ECM protein and mechanical stimulations. These observations suggest a role for primary cilia in mechanochemical sensing in vasculature.
Primary cilia; Vascular smooth muscle cells; Mechanosensing; Intracellular calcium; Integrins
Erythropoietin (EPO) may be protective for early stage diabetic retinopathy, although there are concerns that it could exacerbate retinal angiogenesis and thrombosis. A peptide based on the EPO helix-B domain (helix B-surface peptide [pHBSP]) is nonerythrogenic but retains tissue-protective properties, and this study evaluates its therapeutic potential in diabetic retinopathy.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
After 6 months of streptozotocin-induced diabetes, rats (n = 12) and age-matched nondiabetic controls (n = 12) were evenly split into pHBSP and scrambled peptide groups and injected daily (10 μg/kg per day) for 1 month. The retina was investigated for glial dysfunction, microglial activation, and neuronal DNA damage. The vasculature was dual stained with isolectin and collagen IV. Retinal cytokine expression was quantified using real-time RT-PCR. In parallel, oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) was used to evaluate the effects of pHBSP on retinal ischemia and neovascularization (1–30 μg/kg pHBSP or control peptide).
pHBSP or scrambled peptide treatment did not alter hematocrit. In the diabetic retina, Müller glial expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein was increased when compared with nondiabetic controls, but pHBSP significantly reduced this stress-related response (P < 0.001). CD11b+ microglia and proinflammatory cytokines were elevated in diabetic retina responses, and some of these responses were attenuated by pHBSP (P < 0.01–0.001). pHBSP significantly reduced diabetes-linked DNA damage as determined by 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine and transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling positivity and also prevented acellular capillary formation (P < 0.05). In OIR, pHBSP had no effect on preretinal neovascularization at any dose.
Treatment with an EPO-derived peptide after diabetes is fully established can significantly protect against neuroglial and vascular degenerative pathology without altering hematocrit or exacerbating neovascularization. These findings have therapeutic implications for disorders such as diabetic retinopathy.
The ability to create primary cell cultures of dopamine neurons allows for the study of the presynaptic characteristics of dopamine neurons in isolation from systemic input from elsewhere in the brain. In our lab, we use these neurons to assess dopamine release kinetics using carbon fiber amperometry, as well as expression levels of dopamine related genes and proteins using quantitative PCR and immunocytochemistry. In this video, we show you how we generate these cultures from rodent neonates.
The process involves several steps, including the plating of cortical glial astrocytes, the conditioning of neuronal cell culture media by the glial substrate, the dissection of the midbrain in neonates, the digestion, extraction and plating of dopamine neurons and the addition of neurotrophic factors to ensure cell survival.
The applications suitable for such a preparation include electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry, quantitative PCR, video microscopy (i.e., of real-time vesicular fusion with the plasma membrane), cell viability assays and other toxicological screens.
Diabetic retinopathy is widely considered to be a neurovascular disease. This is in contrast to its previous identity as solely a vascular disease. Early in the disease progression of diabetes, the major cells in the neuronal component of the retina consist of retinal ganglion cells and glial cells, both of which have been found to be compromised. A number of retinal function tests also indicated a functional deficit in diabetic retina, which further supports dysfunction of neuronal cells. As an endocrinological disorder, diabetes alters metabolism both systemically and locally in several body organs, including the retina. A growing body of evidences indicates increased levels of excitotoxic metabolites, including glutamate, branched chain amino acids and homocysteine in cases of diabetic retinopathy. Also present, early in the disease, are decreased levels of folic acid and vitamin-B12, which are potential metabolites capable of damaging neurons. These altered levels of metabolites are found to activate several metabolic pathways, leading to increases in oxidative stress and decreases in the level of neurotrophic factors. As a consequence, they may damage retinal neurons in diabetic patients. In this review, we have discussed those potential excitotoxic metabolites and their implications in neuronal damage. Possible therapeutic targets to protect neurons are also discussed. However, further research is needed to understand the exact molecular mechanism of neurodegeneration so that effective neuroprotection strategies can be developed. By protecting retinal neurons early in diabetic retinopathy cases, damage of retinal vessels can be protected, thereby helping to ameliorate the progression of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness worldwide.
diabetic retinopathy; drugs; neurodegeneration; retina; oxidative stress; glutamate
Toxoplasmic retinochoroiditis is a common blinding retinal infection caused by the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Basic processes relating to establishment of infection in the human eye by T. gondii tachyzoites have not been investigated. To evaluate the ability of tachyzoites to navigate the human retina, we developed an ex vivo assay, in which a suspension containing 1.5×107 parasites replaced vitreous in a posterior eyecup. After 8 hours, the retina was formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded, and sections were immunostained to identify tachyzoites. To determine the preference of tachyzoites for human retinal neuronal versus glial populations, we infected dissociated retinal cultures, subsequently characterized by neuron-specific enolase or glial fibrillary acidic protein expression, and retinal cell lines, with YFP-expressing tachyzoites. In migration assays, retinas contained 110–250 live tachyzoites; 64.5–95.2% (mean = 79.6%) were localized to the nerve fiber layer, but some were detected in the outer retina. Epifluorescence imaging of dissociated retinal cultures 24 hours after infection indicated preferential infection of glia. This observation was confirmed in growth assays, with significantly higher (p≤0.005) numbers of tachyzoites measured in glial verus neuronal cell lines. Our translational studies indicate that, after entering retina, tachyzoites may navigate multiple tissue layers. Tachyzoites preferentially infect glial cells, which exist throughout the retina. These properties may contribute to the success of T. gondii as a human pathogen.
Recent studies have described a novel type of glial cell that is scattered across the inner layers of the avian retina and possibly the retinas of primates. These cells have been termed Non-astrocytic Inner Retinal Glial (NIRG) cells. These cells are stimulated by insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) to proliferate, migrate distally into the retina, and become reactive. These changes in glial activity correlate with increased susceptibility of retinal neurons and Müller glia to excitotoxic damage. The purpose of this study was to further study the NIRG cells in retinas treated with IGF1 or acute damage. In response to IGF1, the reactivity, proliferation and migration of NIRG cells persists through 3 days after treatment. At 7 days after treatment, the numbers and distribution of NIRG cells returns to normal, suggesting that homeostatic mechanisms are in place within the retina to maintain the numbers and distribution of these glial cells. By comparison, IGF1-induced microglial reactivity persists for at least 7 days after treatment. In damaged retinas, we find a transient accumulation of NIRG cells, which parallels the accumulation of reactive microglia, suggesting that the reactivity of NIRG cells and microglia are linked. When the microglia are selectively ablated by the combination of interleukin 6 and clodronate-liposomes, the NIRG cells down-regulate transitin and perish within the following week, suggesting that the survival and phenotype of NIRG cells are somehow linked to the microglia. We conclude that the abundance, reactivity and retinal distribution of NIRG cells can be dynamic, are regulated by homoestatic mechanisms and are tethered to the microglia.
Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a pleiotropic cytokine with pro-angiogenic and neurotrophic effects. The angioregulatory role of this molecule may become especially significant in retinal neovascularization, which is a hallmark of a number of ischemic eye diseases. This study was undertaken to reveal expression characteristics of bFGF, produced by retinal glial (Müller) cells, and to determine conditions under which glial bFGF may stimulate the proliferation of retinal microvascular endothelial cells. Immunofluorescence labeling detected bFGF in Müller cells of the rat retina and in acutely isolated Müller cells with bFGF levels, which increased after ischemia-reperfusion in postischemic retinas. In patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy or myopia, the immunoreactivity of bFGF co-localized to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive cells in surgically excised retinal tissues. RT-PCR and ELISA analyses indicated that cultured Müller cells produce bFGF, which is elevated under hypoxia or oxidative stress, as well as under stimulation with various growth factors and cytokines, including pro-inflammatory factors. When retinal endothelial cells were cultured in the presence of media from hypoxia (0.2%)-conditioned Müller cells, a distinct picture of endothelial cell proliferation emerged. Media from 24-h cultured Müller cells inhibited proliferation, whereas 72-h conditioned media elicited a stimulatory effect. BFGF-neutralizing antibodies suppressed the enhanced endothelial cell proliferation to a similar extent as anti-VEGF antibodies. Furthermore, phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK−1/−2) in retinal endothelial cells was increased when the cells were cultured in 72-h conditioned media, while neutralizing bFGF attenuated the activation of this signaling pathway. These data provide evidence that retinal (glial) Müller cells are major sources of bFGF in the ischemic retina. Müller cells under physiological conditions or transient hypoxia seem to provide an anti-angiogenic environment, but long-lasting hypoxia causes the release of bFGF, which might significantly co-stimulate neovascularization in the retina.
We are investigating a double transgenic rat (dTGR) model, in which rats transgenic for the human angiotensinogen and renin genes are crossed. These rats develop moderately severe hypertension but die of end-organ cardiac and renal damage by week 7. The heart shows necrosis and fibrosis, whereas the kidneys resemble the hemolytic-uremic syndrome vasculopathy. Surface adhesion molecules (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) are expressed early on the endothelium, while the corresponding ligands are found on circulating leukocytes. Leukocyte infiltration in the vascular wall accompanies PAI-1, MCP-1, iNOS and Tissue Factor expression. Furthermore we show evidence that Ang II causes the upregulation of NF-kB in our model.
We started PDTC-treatment on four weeks old dTGR (200 mg/kg sc) and age-matched SD rats.. Blood-pressure- and albuminuria- measurements were monitored during the treatement period (four weeks). The seven weeks old animals were killed, hearts and kidneys were isolated and used for immunohistochemical-and electromobility shift assay analsis.
Chronic treatment with the antioxidant PDTC decreased blood pressure (162 ± 8 vs. 190 ± 7 mm Hg, p = 0.02). Cardiac hypertrophy index was significantly reduced (4.90 ± 0.1 vs. 5.77 ± 0.1 mg/g, p < 0.001) compared to dTGR. PDTC reduced 24 h albuminuria by 85 % (2.7 ± 0.5 vs. 18.0 ± 3.4 mg/d, p < 0.001) and prevented death significantly. Vascular injury was ameliorated in small renal and cardiac vessels. PDTC inhibited NF-κB binding activity in heart and kidney. Immunohistochemical analysis shows increased expression of the p65 NF-κB subunit in the endothelium, smooth muscles cells of damaged small vessels, infiltrated cells, glomeruli, tubuli and collecting ducts of dTGR. PDTC markedly reduced the immunoreactivity of p65.
Our data show that inhibition of NF-κB by PDTC markedly reduces inflammation, iNOS expression in the dTGR most likely leading to decreased cytotoxicity, and cell proliferation. Thus, NF-κB activation plays an important role in ANG II-induced end-organ damage.
Bladder sensation is mediated by lumbosacral dorsal root ganglion neurons and is essential for normal voiding and nociception. Numerous electrophysiological, structural, and molecular changes occur in these neurons following inflammation. Defining which neurons undergo these changes is critical for understanding the mechanism underlying bladder pain and dysfunction. Our first aim was to define the chemical classes of bladder sensory neurons that express receptors for the endogenous modulators of nociceptor sensitivity, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), the related neurotrophic factor, artemin, and estrogens. Bladder sensory neurons of adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were identified with retrograde tracer. Diverse groups of neurons express these receptors, and some neurons express receptors for both neurotrophic factors and estrogens. Lumbar and sacral sensory neurons showed some distinct differences in their expression profile. We also distinguished the chemical profile of myelinated and unmyelinated bladder sensory neurons. Our second aim was to identify bladder sensory neurons likely to be undergoing structural remodeling during inflammation. Following systemic administration of cyclophosphamide (CYP), its renal metabolite acrolein causes transient urothelial loss, exposing local afferent terminals to a toxic environment. CYP induced expression of the injury-related immediate-early gene product, activating transcription factor-3 (ATF-3), in a small population of sacral nitrergic bladder sensory neurons. In conclusion, we have defined the bladder sensory neurons that express receptors for GDNF, artemin and estrogens. Our study has also identified a sub-population of sacral sensory neurons that are likely to be undergoing structural remodeling during acute inflammation of the bladder. Together these results contribute to increased understanding of the neurons that are known to be involved in pain modulation and hyperreflexia during inflammation.
dorsal root ganglion; painful bladder syndrome; pelvic pain; visceral pain; steroid; cystitis; interstitial cystitis; inflammatory pain
To clarify the effects on the visual pathway that occur following retinal damage, we examined the morphological alterations present in the superior colliculus (SC) after N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-induced retinal damage in mice.
NMDA was injected into the vitreous body of the left eye in mice to induce retinal damage. The time-dependent neuronal degeneration in the SC was assessed using immunohistochemistry.
The number of neuronal nuclear specific protein (NeuN)-immunostained neurons showed a significant decrease in the contralateral SC at both 90 and 180 days after intravitreal NMDA injection. In contrast, the ipsilateral SC displayed no significant change in the number of NeuN-positive cells. An increase in glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) immunoreactivity was observed in the contralateral SC at 7, 30, and 90 days after NMDA injection and in the ipsilateral SC at 7 days, while brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression was increased in the contralateral SC at 30 and 90 days. In the contralateral SC, some GFAP-positive astroglial cells also exhibited BDNF at 30 days after NMDA injection.
Evidence of time-dependent morphological neuronal degeneration along the retinocollicular pathway from the retina to the SC was detected at 90 and 180 days, but not at 30 days, after NMDA-induced retinal damage. This neurodegeneration was preceded by an increase in BDNF expression in the SC, specifically at 30 and 90 days after NMDA injection. Hence, these findings may provide useful information concerning the pathological mechanisms of several disorders accompanied by retinal degeneration.
The damaged zebrafish retina replaces lost neurons through a regenerative response that initiates with the asymmetric cell division of Müller glia to produce neuronal progenitor cells that proliferate and migrate to the damaged retinal layer, where they differentiate into the lost neuronal cell types. Because Müller glia are known to phagocytose apoptotic retinal cells during development, we tested if Müller glia engulfed apoptotic rod cell bodies in light-damaged retinas. After 24 hours of constant intense light, damaged retinas revealed both a strong nuclear TUNEL signal in photoreceptors and a weak cytoplasmic TUNEL signal in Müller glia, although Müller glial apoptosis is not observed in the light-damaged retina. Light damage of a rod-specific transgenic reporter line, Tg(XlRho:EGFP)fl1, resulted in some Müller glia containing both TUNEL signal and EGFP, which indicated that this subset of Müller glia engulfed apoptotic photoreceptor cell bodies.
To determine if phagocytosis induced the Müller glial proliferative response in the light-damaged retina, we utilized O-phospho-L-serine (L-SOP), a molecule that mimics the phosphatidylserine head group and partially blocks microglial phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Intravitreal injection of L-SOP immediately prior to beginning constant intense light treatment: i) did not significantly reduce light-induced photoreceptor cell death, ii) significantly reduced the number of PCNA-positive Müller glia, and iii) significantly reduced the number of cone photoreceptors in the regenerated retina relative to control retinas. Because L-SOP is also a specific group III metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) agonist, we also tested if the more potent specific group III agonist, L-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (L-AP4), the specific group III antagonist (RS)-α-Methylserine-O-phosphate (MSOP) or the specific group I antagonist, L-2-amino-3-phophonopropanoic acid (L-AP3) affected Müller glial proliferation. We found no changes with any of these factors compared to control retinas, revealing that metabotropic glutamate receptors were not necessary in the Müller glia proliferative response. Furthermore, ascl1a and stat3 expression were unaffected in either the L-SOP or MSOP-injected retinas relative to controls, suggesting L-SOP disrupts Müller glia proliferation subsequent to or in parallel with ascl1a and stat3 activation. This implies that at least one signaling mechanism, in addition to the process disrupted by L-SOP, is required to activate Müller glia proliferation in the light-damaged retina.
regeneration; Müller glia; retina; phosphatidylserine; type III metabotropic glutamate receptor; phagocytosis
Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), a member of the interleukin-6 cytokine family, has been implicated in the development, differentiation and survival of retinal neurons. The mechanisms of CNTF action as well as its cellular targets in the retina are poorly understood. It has been postulated that some of the biological effects of CNTF are mediated through its action via retinal glial cells; however, molecular changes in retinal glia induced by CNTF have not been elucidated. We have, therefore, examined gene expression dynamics of purified Müller (glial) cells exposed to CNTF in vivo.
Müller cells were flow-sorted from mgfap-egfp transgenic mice one or three days after intravitreal injection of CNTF. Microarray analysis using RNA from purified Müller cells showed differential expression of almost 1,000 transcripts with two- to seventeen-fold change in response to CNTF. A comparison of transcriptional profiles from Müller cells at one or three days after CNTF treatment showed an increase in the number of transcribed genes as well as a change in the expression pattern. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis showed that the differentially regulated genes belong to distinct functional types such as cytokines, growth factors, G-protein coupled receptors, transporters and ion channels. Interestingly, many genes induced by CNTF were also highly expressed in reactive Müller cells from mice with inherited or experimentally induced retinal degeneration. Further analysis of gene profiles revealed 20–30% overlap in the transcription pattern among Müller cells, astrocytes and the RPE.
Our studies provide novel molecular insights into biological functions of Müller glial cells in mediating cytokine response. We suggest that CNTF remodels the gene expression profile of Müller cells leading to induction of networks associated with transcription, cell cycle regulation and inflammatory response. CNTF also appears to function as an inducer of gliosis in the retina.
To investigate the anatomic and functional changes triggered by light exposure in the albino mouse retina and compare them with those observed in the albino rat.
BALB/c albino mice were exposed to 3,000 lx of white light during 24 h and their retinas analyzed from 1 to 180 days after light exposure (ALE). Left pupil mydriasis was induced with topical atropine. Retinal function was analyzed by electroretinographic (ERG) recording. To assess retinal degeneration, hematoxylin and eosin staining, the TdT-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) technique, and quantitative immunohistofluorescence for synaptophysin and protein kinase Cα (PKCα) were used in cross sections. Intravenous injection of horseradish peroxidase and Fluoro-Gold™ tracing were used in whole-mounted retinas to study the retinal vasculature and the retinal ganglion cell (RGC) population, respectively.
Light exposure caused apoptotic photoreceptor death in the central retina. This death was more severe in the dorsal than in the ventral retina, sparing the periphery. Neither retinal vascular leakage nor retinal ganglion cell death was observed ALE. The electroretinographic a-wave was permanently impaired, while the b-wave decreased but recovered gradually by 180 days ALE. The scotopic threshold responses, associated with the inner retinal function, diminished at first but recovered completely by 14 days ALE. This functional recovery was concomitant with the upregulation of protein kinase Cα and synaptophysin. Similar results were obtained in both eyes, irrespective of mydriasis.
In albino mice, light exposure induces substantial retinal damage, but the surviving photoreceptors, together with compensatory morphological/molecular changes, allow an important restoration of the retinal function.