Pathological angiogenesis is a major cause of irreversible blindness in individuals of all age groups with proliferative retinopathy (PR). Mononuclear phagocytes (MPs) within neovascular areas contribute to aberrant retinal angiogenesis. Due to their cellular heterogeneity, defining the roles of MP subsets in PR onset and progression has been challenging. Here, we aimed to investigate the heterogeneity of microglia associated with neovascularization and characterize the transcriptional profiles and metabolic pathways of pro-angiogenic microglia in a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy (OIR). Using transcriptional single-cell sorting, we comprehensively map all microglia populations in retinas of room air (RA) and OIR mice. We unveil several unique types of PR-associated microglia (PRAM) and identify markers, signaling pathways, and regulons associated with these cells. Among these microglia subpopulations, we found a highly proliferative microglia subset with high self-renewal capacity and a hyper-metabolic microglia subset that expresses high levels of activating microglia markers, glycolytic enzymes and pro-angiogenic insulin-like growth factor 1. Immunohistochemical staining shows these PRAMs were spatially located within or around neovascular (NV) tufts. These unique microglia-types have the potential to promote retinal angiogenesis, which may have important implications for future treatment of PR and other pathological ocular angiogenesis-related diseases.
Zhiping Liu, Huidong Shi, Jiean Xu, Qiuhua Yang, Qian Ma, Xiaoxiao Mao, Zhimin Xu, Yaqi Zhou, Qingen Da, Yongfeng Cai, David J.R. Fulton, Zheng Dong, Akrit Sodhi, Ruth B. Caldwell, Yuqing Huo
We describe affected members of a two-generation family segregating a Stargardt disease-like phenotype caused by a two base pair deletion-insertion, c.1014_1015delGAinsCT;p(Trp338_Asn339delinsCysTyr), in BEST1. The variant was identified by whole exome sequencing and its pathogenicity was verified through chloride channel recording using wild-type (WT) and transfected mutant HEK293 cells. Clinical examination of both patients revealed a similar phenotype at two different disease stages that were attributable to difference in their age at presentation. Hyperautofluorescent flecks along the arcades were observed in the proband, while the affected mother exhibited more advanced retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) loss in the central macula. Full-field electroretinogram testing was unremarkable in the daughter, however, moderate attenuation of generalized cone function was detected in the mother. Electro-oculogram testing in the daughter was consistent with widespread dysfunction of the RPE characteristic of Best disease. Whole-cell patch clamp recordings revealed statistically significant decrease in chloride conductance of the mutant compared to WT cells. This report broadens the clinical spectrum of BEST1-associated retinopathy in the form of a mother and daughter with BEST1 genotype phenocopying Stargardt disease.
Masha Kolesnikova, Jin Kyun Oh, Jiali Wang, Winston Lee, Jana Zernant, Pei-Yin Su, Angela H. Kim, Laura A. Jenny, Tingting Yang, Rando Allikmets, Stephen H. Tsang
Loss of retinal blood flow autoregulation is an early feature of diabetes that precedes the development of clinically recognizable diabetic retinopathy (DR). Retinal blood flow autoregulation is mediated by the myogenic response of the retinal arterial vessels, a process that is initiated by the stretch‑dependent activation of TRPV2 channels on the retinal vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Here, we show that the impaired myogenic reaction of retinal arterioles from diabetic animals is associated with a complete loss of stretch‑dependent TRPV2 current activity on the retinal VSMCs. This effect could be attributed, in part, to TRPV2 channel downregulation, a phenomenon that was also evident in human retinal VSMCs from diabetic donors. We also demonstrate that TRPV2 heterozygous rats, a nondiabetic model of impaired myogenic reactivity and blood flow autoregulation in the retina, develop a range of microvascular, glial, and neuronal lesions resembling those observed in DR, including neovascular complexes. No overt kidney pathology was observed in these animals. Our data suggest that TRPV2 dysfunction underlies the loss of retinal blood flow autoregulation in diabetes and provide strong support for the hypothesis that autoregulatory deficits are involved in the pathogenesis of DR.
Michael O’Hare, Gema Esquiva, Mary K. McGahon, Jose Manuel Romero Hombrebueno, Josy Augustine, Paul Canning, Kevin S. Edgar, Peter Barabas, Thomas Friedel, Patrizia Cincolà, Jennifer Henry, Katie Mayne, Hannah Ferrin, Alan W. Stitt, Timothy J. Lyons, Derek P. Brazil, David J. Grieve, J. Graham McGeown, Tim M. Curtis
Familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (FEVR) is a hereditary disorder that can cause vision loss. The CTNND1 gene encodes a cellular adhesion protein p120-catenin (p120), which is essential for vascularization, yet the function of p120 in postnatal physiological angiogenesis remains unclear. Here, we applied whole-exome sequencing (WES) on 140 probands of FEVR families and identified three candidate variants in the human CTNND1 gene. We performed inducible deletion of Ctnnd1 in the postnatal mouse endothelial cells (ECs) and observed typical phenotypes of FEVR. Immunofluorescence of retina flat mounts also revealed immune responses, including reactive astrogliosis and microgliosis accompanied by abnormal Vegfa expression. Using an unbiased proteomics analysis in combination with in vivo or in vitro approaches, we propose that p120 is critical for the integrity of cadherin/catenin complex, and that p120 activates Wnt signaling activity by protecting β-catenin from Gsk3β-ubiquitin-guided degradation. Treatment of CTNND1-depleted HRECs with Gsk3β inhibitors LiCl or CHIR-99021 successfully enhanced cell proliferation by preventing β-catenin from degradation. Moreover, LiCl treatment increased vessel density in Ctnnd1-deficient mouse retinas. Functional analysis also revealed that variants in CTNND1 cause FEVR by compromising the expression of adherens junctions (AJs) and Wnt signaling activity. Additionally, genetic interactions between p120 and β-catenin or α-catenin revealed by double heterozygous deletion in mice further confirmed that p120 regulates vascular development through the Wnt/Cadherin axis. Together, we propose that CTNND1 is a novel candidate gene associated with FEVR, and that variants in CTNND1 can cause FEVR through the Wnt/Cadherin axis.
Mu Yang, Shujin Li, Li Huang, Rulian Zhao, Erkuan Dai, Xiaoyan Jiang, Yunqi He, Jinglin Lu, Li Peng, Wenjing Liu, Zhaotian Zhang, Dan Jiang, Yi Zhang, Zhilin Jiang, Yeming Yang, Peiquan Zhao, Xianjun Zhu, Xiaoyan Ding, Zhenglin Yang
Most patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss in elderly Americans, respond inadequately to current therapies targeting a single angiogenic mediator, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Here we report that aqueous levels of a second vasoactive mediator, angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4), can help predict the response of nvAMD patients to anti-VEGF therapies. ANGPTL4 expression was higher in patients who required monthly treatment with anti-VEGF therapies compared to patients who could be effectively treated with less frequent injections. We further demonstrate that ANGPTL4 acts synergistically with VEGF to promote the growth and leakage of choroidal neovascular (CNV) lesions in mice. Targeting ANGPTL4 expression was as effective as targeting VEGF expression for treating CNV in mice, while simultaneously targeting both was more effective than targeting either factor alone. To help translate these findings to patients, we used a soluble receptor that binds to both VEGF and ANGPTL4 and effectively inhibited the development of CNV lesions in mice. Our findings provide an assay that can help predict the response of nvAMD patients to anti-VEGF monotherapy and suggest that therapies targeting both ANGPTL4 and VEGF will be a more effective approach for the treatment of this blinding disease.
Yu Qin, Aumreetam Dinabandhu, Xuan Cao, Jaron C. Sanchez, Kathleen Jee, Murilo Rodrigues, Chuanyu Guo, Jing Zhang, Jordan Vancel, Deepak Menon, Noore-Sabah Khan, Tao Ma, Stephany Y. Tzeng, Yassine J. Daoud, Jordan J. Green, Gregg L. Semenza, Silvia Montaner, Akrit Sodhi
Disruption of the neurovascular unit (NVU) underlies the pathophysiology of various CNS diseases.(1-3) One strategy to repair NVU dysfunction would use stem/progenitor cells to provide trophic support to the NVU’s functionally coupled and interdependent vasculature and surrounding CNS parenchyma.(4) A subset of endothelial progenitor cells, endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) with high expression of the CD44 hyaluronan receptor (CD44hi), provides such neurovasculotrophic support via a paracrine mechanism.(5) Here, we report that bioactive extracellular vesicles from CD44hi ECFCs (EVshi) are paracrine mediators, recapitulating the effects of intact cell therapy in murine models of ischemic/neurodegenerative retinopathy; vesicles from ECFCs with low expression levels of CD44 (EVslo) were ineffective. Small RNA sequencing comparing the microRNA (miR) cargo from EVshi and EVslo identified candidate miRs that contribute to these effects. EVshi may be used to repair NVU dysfunction through multiple mechanisms to stabilize hypoxic vasculature, promote vascular growth, and support neural cells.
Kyle V. Marra, Edith Aguilar, Wei Guoqin, Ayumi Usui-Ouchi, Yochiro Ideguchi, Susumu Sakimoto, Martin Friedlander
Rhodopsin (RHO)-associated retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a progressive retinal disease that currently has no cure. RHO protein misfolding leads to disturbed proteostasis and the death of rod photoreceptors, resulting in decreased vision. We previously identified non-retinoid chaperones of RHO, including YC-001 and F5257-0462, by small-molecule high-throughput screening. Here, we profile the chaperone activities of these molecules towards the cell-surface level of 27 RP-causing human RHO mutants in NIH3T3 cells. Further, using retinal explant culture, we show that YC-001 improves retinal proteostasis by supporting RHO homeostasis in RhoP23H/+ mouse retinae, which results in thicker outer nuclear layers (ONL) indicating delayed photoreceptor degeneration. Interestingly, YC-001 ameliorated retinal immune responses and reduced the number of microglia/macrophages in the RhoP23H/+ retinal explants. Similarly, F5257-0462 also protects photoreceptors in RhoP23H/+ retinal explants. In vivo, intravitreal injection of YC-001 or F5257-0462 microparticles in PBS shows that F5257-0462 has a higher efficacy in preserving photoreceptor function and delaying photoreceptor death in RhoP23H/+ mice. Collectively, we provide proof of principle that non-retinoid chaperones are promising drug candidates in treating RHO-associated RP.
Abhishek Vats, Yibo Xi, Bing Feng, Owen D. Clinger, Anthony J. St. Leger, Xujie Liu, Archisha Ghosh, Chase D. Dermond, Kira L. Lathrop, Gregory P. Tochtrop, Serge Picaud, Yuanyuan Chen
Dyslipidemia and autophagy have been implicated in the pathogenesis of blinding neovascular age-related macular degeneration (NV-AMD). Very low-density lipoprotein receptor (VLDLR), expressed in photoreceptors with a high metabolic rate, facilitates the uptake of triglyceride-derived fatty acids (FA). Since FA uptake is reduced in Vldlr-/- tissues, more remain in circulation, and the retina is fuel deficient, driving the formation in mice of neovascular lesions reminiscent of retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP), a subtype of NV-AMD. Nutrient scarcity and energy failure are classically mitigated by increasing autophagy. We find that excess circulating lipids restrain retinal autophagy, which contributes to pathological angiogenesis in the Vldlr-/- RAP model. Triglyceride-derived FA sensed by free fatty acid receptor 1 (FFAR1) restricted autophagy and oxidative metabolism in photoreceptors. FFAR1 suppressed transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of autophagy and lipid metabolism. Reduced TFEB, in turn, decreased Sirtuin-3 expression and mitochondrial respiration. Metabolomic signatures of mouse RAP-like retinas were consistent with a role in promoting angiogenesis. This signature was also found in human NV-AMD vitreous. Restoring photoreceptor autophagy in Vldlr-/- retinas, either pharmacologically or by deleting Ffar1, enhanced metabolic efficiency and suppressed pathological angiogenesis. Dysregulated autophagy by circulating lipids might therefore contribute to the energy failure of photoreceptors driving neovascular eye diseases, and FFAR1 may be a target for intervention.
Emilie Heckel, Gael Cagnone, Tapan Agnihotri, Bertan Cakir, Ashim Das, Jin Sung Kim, Nicholas Kim, Geneviève Lavoie, Anu Situ, Sheetal Pundir, Ye Sun, Florian Wünnemann, Kerry A. Pierce, Courtney Dennis, Grant A. Mitchell, Sylvain Chemtob, Flavio A. Rezende, Gregor Andelfinger, Clary B. Clish, Philippe P. Roux, Przemyslaw Sapieha, Lois E.H. Smith, Jean-Sébastien Joyal
BACKGROUND Outcome measures sensitive to disease progression are needed for ATP-binding cassette, sub-family A, member 4–associated (ABCA4-associated) retinopathy. We aimed to quantify ellipsoid zone (EZ) loss and photoreceptor degeneration beyond EZ-loss in ABCA4-associated retinopathy and investigate associations between photoreceptor degeneration, genotype, and age.METHODS We analyzed 132 eyes from 66 patients (of 67 enrolled) with molecularly confirmed ABCA4-associated retinopathy from a prospective natural history study with a median [IQR] follow-up of 4.2 years [3.1, 5.1]. Longitudinal spectral-domain optical coherence tomography volume scans (37 B-scans, 30° × 15°) were segmented using a deep learning (DL) approach. For genotype-phenotype analysis, a model of ABCA4 variants was applied with the age of criterion EZ-loss (6.25 mm2) as the dependent variable.RESULTS Patients exhibited an average (square-root-transformed) EZ-loss progression rate of [95% CI] 0.09 mm/y [0.06, 0.11]. Outer nuclear layer (ONL) thinning extended beyond the area of EZ-loss. The average distance from the EZ-loss boundary to normalization of ONL thickness (to ±2 z score units) was 3.20° [2.53, 3.87]. Inner segment (IS) and outer segment (OS) thinning was less pronounced, with an average distance from the EZ-loss boundary to layer thickness normalization of 1.20° [0.91, 1.48] for the IS and 0.60° [0.49, 0.72] for the OS. An additive model of allele severity explained 52.7% of variability in the age of criterion EZ-loss.CONCLUSION Patients with ABCA4-associated retinopathy exhibited significant alterations of photoreceptors outside of EZ-loss. DL-based analysis of photoreceptor laminae may help monitor disease progression and estimate the severity of ABCA4 variants.TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01736293.FUNDING National Eye Institute Intramural Research Program and German Research Foundation grant PF950/1-1.
Maximilian Pfau, Catherine A. Cukras, Laryssa A. Huryn, Wadih M. Zein, Ehsan Ullah, Marisa P. Boyle, Amy Turriff, Michelle A. Chen, Aarti S. Hinduja, Hermann E.A. Siebel, Robert B. Hufnagel, Brett G. Jeffrey, Brian P. Brooks
Adiponectin receptor 1 (ADIPOR1) is a lipid and glucose metabolism regulator that possesses intrinsic ceramidase activity. Mutations of the ADIPOR1 gene have been associated with non-syndromic and syndromic retinitis pigmentosa. Here we show that the absence of AdipoR1 in mice leads to progressive photoreceptor degeneration, significant reduction of electroretinogram amplitudes, decreased retinoid content in the retina, and reduced cone opsin expression. Single-cell RNA-Seq results indicated that ADIPOR1 encodes the most abundantly expressed ceramidase in mice and one of the two most highly expressed ceramidases in the human retina, next to acid ceramidase ASAH1. We discovered an accumulation of ceramides in the AdipoR1-/- retina, likely due to insufficient ceramidase activity for healthy retina function, resulting in photoreceptor death. Combined treatment with desipramine and L-cycloserine (DC) lowered ceramide levels and exerted a protective effect on photoreceptors in AdipoR1-/- mice. Moreover, we observed improvement in cone-mediated retinal function in the DC-treated animals. Lastly, we found that prolonged DC-treatment corrected the electrical responses of the primary visual cortex to visual stimuli, approaching near-normal levels for some parameters. These results highlight the importance of ADIPOR1 ceramidase in the retina, and show that pharmacological inhibition of ceramide generation can provide a therapeutic strategy for ADIPOR1-related retinopathy.
Dominik Lewandowski, Andrzej T. Foik, Roman Smidak, Elliot H. Choi, Jianye Zhang, Thanh Hoang, Aleksander Tworak, Susie Suh, Henri Leinonen, Zhiqian Dong, Antonio F.M. Pinto, Emily Tom, Jennings C. Luu, Joan Y. Lee, Xiuli Ma, Erhard Bieberich, Seth Blackshaw, Alan Saghatelian, David C. Lyon, Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk, Marcin Tabaka, Krzysztof Palczewski
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