It remains unresolved how retinal pigment epithelial cell metabolism is regulated following immune activation to maintain retinal homeostasis and retinal function. We exposed retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) to several stress signals, particularly Toll-like receptor stimulation, and uncovered an ability of RPE to adapt their metabolic preference on aerobic glycolysis or oxidative glucose metabolism in response to different immune stimuli. We have identified interleukin-33 (IL-33) as a key metabolic checkpoint that antagonizes the Warburg effect to ensure the functional stability of the RPE. The identification of IL-33 as a key regulator of mitochondrial metabolism suggests roles for the cytokine that go beyond its extracellular “alarmin” activities. IL-33 exerts control over mitochondrial respiration in RPE by facilitating oxidative pyruvate catabolism. We have also revealed that in the absence of IL-33, mitochondrial function declined and resultant bioenergetic switching was aligned with altered mitochondrial morphology. Our data not only shed new light on the molecular pathway of activation of mitochondrial respiration in RPE in response to immune stressors but also uncover a potentially novel role of nuclear intrinsic IL-33 as a metabolic checkpoint regulator.
Louis M. Scott, Emma E. Vincent, Natalie Hudson, Chris Neal, Nicholas Jones, Ed C. Lavelle, Matthew Campbell, Andrew P. Halestrap, Andrew D. Dick, Sofia Theodoropoulou
BACKGROUND. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a condition predominantly affecting obese women of reproductive age. Recent evidence suggests that IIH is a disease of metabolic dysregulation, androgen excess and an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity. Here we evaluate systemic and adipose specific metabolic determinants of the IIH phenotype. METHODS. In fasted, matched IIH (N=97) and control (N=43) patients, we assessed: glucose and insulin homeostasis and leptin levels. Body composition was assessed along with an interrogation of adipose tissue function via nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics and RNA sequencing in paired omental and subcutaneous biopsies in a case control study. RESULTS. We demonstrate an insulin and leptin resistant phenotype in IIH in excess to that driven by obesity. Adiposity in IIH is preferentially centripetal and is associated with increased disease activity and insulin resistance. IIH adipocytes appear transcriptionally and metabolically primed towards depot-specific lipogenesis. CONCLUSIONS. These data show that IIH is a metabolic disorder in which adipose tissue dysfunction is a feature of the disease. Managing IIH as a metabolic disease could reduce disease morbidity and improving cardiovascular outcomes. FUNDING. This study was supported by the National Institute of Health Research UK (NIHR-CS-011-028), the Medical Research Council UK (MR/K015184/1) and the Midlands Neuroscience Teaching and Research Fund.
Connar S.J. Westgate, Hannah F. Botfield, Zerin Alimajstorovic, Andreas Yiangou, Mark Walsh, Gabrielle Smith, Rishi Singhal, James L. Mitchell, Olivia Grech, Keira A. Markey, Daniel Hebenstreit, Daniel A. Tennant, Jeremy W. Tomlinson, Susan P. Mollan, Christian Ludwig, Ildem Akerman, Gareth G. Lavery, Alexandra J. Sinclair
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) damages the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the tissue that safeguards photoreceptor health, leading to irreversible vision loss. Polymorphisms in cholesterol and complement genes are implicated in AMD, yet mechanisms linking risk variants to RPE injury remain unclear. We sought to determine how allelic variants in the apolipoprotein E cholesterol transporter modulate RPE homeostasis and function. Using live-cell imaging, we show that inefficient cholesterol transport by the AMD risk-associated ApoE2 increases RPE ceramide, leading to autophagic defects and complement-mediated mitochondrial damage. Mitochondrial injury drives redox state-sensitive cysteine-mediated phase separation of ApoE2, forming biomolecular condensates that could nucleate drusen. The protective ApoE4 isoform lacks these cysteines and is resistant to phase separation and condensate formation. In Abca4-/- Stargardt macular degeneration mice, mitochondrial dysfunction induces liquid-liquid phase separation of p62/SQSTM1, a multifunctional protein that regulates autophagy. Drugs that decrease RPE cholesterol or ceramide prevent mitochondrial injury and phase separation in vitro and in vivo. In AMD donor RPE, mitochondrial fragmentation correlates with ApoE and p62 condensates. Our studies demonstrate that major AMD genetic and biological risk pathways converge upon RPE mitochondria, and identify mitochondrial stress-mediated protein phase separation as an important pathogenic mechanism and promising therapeutic target in AMD.
Nilsa La Cunza, Li Xuan Tan, Thushara Thamban, Colin J Germer, Gurugirijha Rathnasamy, Kimberly Toops, Aparna Lakkaraju
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) provides vital metabolic support for retinal photoreceptor cells and also is an important player in numerous retinal diseases. Gene manipulation in mice using the Cre-LoxP system is an invaluable tool for studying the genetic basis of these retinal diseases. However, existing RPE-targeted Cre mouse lines have critical limitations that restrict their reliability for studies of disease pathogenesis and treatment, including mosaic Cre expression, inducer-independent activity, off-target Cre expression, and intrinsic toxicity. Here, we report the generation and characterization of a knock-in mouse line in which a P2A-CreERT2 coding sequence is fused with the native RPE-specific 65 kDa protein (Rpe65) gene for co-translational expression of CreERT2. Cre+/- mice were able to recombine a stringent Cre reporter allele with >99% efficiency and absolute RPE specificity upon tamoxifen induction at both post-natal days (PD) 21 and 50. Tamoxifen-independent Cre activity was negligible at PD64. Moreover, tamoxifen-treated Cre+/- mice displayed no signs of structural or functional retinal pathology up to 4 months of age. Despite weak RPE65 expression from the knock-in allele, visual cycle function was normal in Cre+/- mice. These data indicate that Rpe65CreERT2 mice are well-suited for studies of gene function and pathophysiology in the RPE.
Elliot H. Choi, Susie Suh, David E. Einstein, Henri Leinonen, Zhiqian Dong, Sriganesh Ramachandra Rao, Steven J. Fliesler, Seth Blackshaw, Minzhong Yu, Neal S. Peachey, Krzysztof Palczewski, Philip D. Kiser
Choroideremia (CHM) is a X-linked recessive chorioretinal dystrophy caused by mutations in CHM, encoding for Rab escort protein 1 (REP1). Loss of functional REP1 leads to the accumulation of unprenylated Rab proteins and defective intracellular protein trafficking, the putative cause for photoreceptor, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and choroidal degeneration. CHM is ubiquitously expressed, but adequate prenylation is considered to be achieved, outside the retina, through the isoform REP2. Recently, the possibility of systemic features in CHM has been debated, hence, in this study whole metabolomic analysis of plasma samples from 25 CHM patients versus age and gender matched controls was performed. Results showed plasma alterations in oxidative stress-related metabolites, coupled with alterations in tryptophan metabolism leading to significantly raised serotonin levels. Lipid metabolism was disrupted with decreased branched fatty acids and acylcarnitines, suggestive of dysfunctional lipid oxidation, and imbalances of several sphingolipids and glycerophospholipids. Targeted lipidomics of the chmru848 zebrafish provided further evidence for dysfunction, with the use of Fenofibrates over Simvastatin circumventing the prenylation pathway to improve the lipid profile and increase survival. This study provides strong evidence for systemic manifestations of CHM and proposes novel pathomechanisms and targets for therapeutic consideration.
Dulce Lima Cunha, Rose Richardson, Dhani Tracey-White, Alessandro Abbouda, Andreas Mitsios, Verena Horneffer-van der Sluis, Panteleimon Takis, Nicholas Owen, Jane Skinner, Ailsa A. Welch, Mariya Moosajee
Elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP) due to trabecular meshwork (TM) damage is associated with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). Myocilin mutations resulting in elevated IOP are the most common genetic cause of POAG. We have previously shown that mutant myocilin accumulates in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and induces chronic ER stress, leading to TM damage and IOP elevation. However, it is not understood how chronic ER stress leads to TM dysfunction and loss. Here, we report that mutant myocilin activates autophagy but it is functionally impairecd in cultured human trabecular meshwork (TM) cells and in a mouse model of myocilin-associated POAG (Tg-MYOCY437H). Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of autophagy worsens mutant myocilin accumulation and exacerbates IOP elevation in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Remarkably, impaired autophagy is associated with chronic ER stress-induced transcriptional factor, CHOP. Deletion of CHOP corrects impaired autophagy, enhances recognition and degradation of mutant myocilin by autophagy,and reduces glaucoma in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Stimulating autophagic flux via Tat-beclin 1 peptide or torin 2, promotes autophagic degradation of mutant myocilin and reduces elevated IOP in Tg-MYOCY437H mice. Together, our studies provide a novel treatment strategy for myocilin-associated POAG by correcting impaired autophagy in the TM.
Ramesh B. Kasetti, Prabhavathi Maddineni, Charles C. Kiehlbauch, Shruti Patil, Charles C. Searby, Beth Levine, Val C. Sheffield, Gulab S. Zode
Nrf2, a transcription factor that regulates the response to oxidative stress, has been shown to rescue cone photoreceptors and slow vision loss in mouse models of retinal degeneration (rd). The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is damaged in these models, but whether it also could be rescued by Nrf2 has not been previously examined. We used an adeno-associated virus (AAV) with an RPE-specific (Best1) promoter to overexpress Nrf2 in the RPE of rd mice. Control rd mice showed disruption of the regular array of the RPE, as well as loss of RPE cells. Cones were lost in circumscribed regions within the cone photoreceptor layer. Overexpression of Nrf2 specifically in the RPE was sufficient to rescue the RPE, as well as the disruptions in the cone photoreceptor layer. Electron microscopy showed compromised apical microvilli in control rd mice but showed preserved microvilli in Best1-Nrf2–treated mice. The rd mice treated with Best1-Nrf2 had slightly better visual acuity. Transcriptome profiling showed that Nrf2 upregulates multiple oxidative defense pathways, reversing declines seen in the glutathione pathway in control rd mice. In summary, Nrf2 overexpression in the RPE preserves RPE morphology and survival in rd mice, and it is a potential therapeutic for diseases involving RPE degeneration, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
David M. Wu, Xuke Ji, Maryna V. Ivanchenko, Michelle Chung, Mary Piper, Parimal Rana, Sean K. Wang, Yunlu Xue, Emma West, Sophia R. Zhao, Hongbin Xu, Marcelo Cicconet, Wenjun Xiong, Constance L. Cepko
Congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) is associated with microcephaly and various neurological, musculoskeletal, and ocular abnormalities, but the long-term pathogenesis and postnatal progression of ocular defects in infants are not well characterized. Rhesus macaques are superior to rodents as models of CZS because they are natural hosts of the virus and share similar immune and ocular characteristics, including blood-retinal barrier characteristics and the unique presence of a macula. Using a previously-described model of CZS by infecting pregnant rhesus macaques with Zika virus (ZIKV) during the late first trimester, we characterized postnatal ocular development and evolution of ocular defects in 2 infant macaques over 2 years. We found that one of these animals exhibited colobomatous chorioretinal atrophic lesions with macular and vascular dragging, as well as retinal thinning caused by loss of retinal ganglion neuron and photoreceptor layers. Despite these congenital ocular malformations, axial elongation and retinal development in these infants progressed at normal rates compared to healthy animals. The ZIKV-exposed infants displayed a rapid loss of ZIKV-specific antibodies, suggesting the absence of viral replication after birth, and did not show any behavioral or neurological defects postnatally. Our findings suggest that ZIKV infection during early pregnancy can impact fetal retinal development and cause congenital ocular anomalies, but does not appear to affect postnatal ocular growth.
Glenn Yiu, Sara M. Thomasy, M. Isabel Casanova, Alexander M. Rusakevich, Rebekah I. Keesler, Jennifer Watanabe, Jodie Usachenko, Anil Singapuri, Erin E. Ball, Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Wendi Guo, Helen Webster, Tulika Singh, Sallie R. Permar, Amir Ardeshir, Lark L. Coffey, Koen K.A. Van Rompay
BACKGROUND Hyperglycemia, insulin insensitivity, and low IGF1 levels in extremely preterm infants are associated with an increased risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), but the interactions are incompletely understood.METHODS In 117 extremely preterm infants, serum glucose levels and parenteral glucose intake were recoded daily in the first postnatal week. Serum IGF1 levels were measured weekly. Mice with oxygen-induced retinopathy alone versus oxygen-induced retinopathy plus streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia were assessed for glucose, insulin, IGF1, IGFBP1, and IGFBP3 in blood and liver. Recombinant human IGF1 was injected to assess the effect on glucose and retinopathy.RESULTS The highest mean plasma glucose tertile of infants positively correlated with parenteral glucose intake [r(39) = 0.67, P < 0.0001]. IGF1 plasma levels were lower in the high tertile compared with those in low and intermediate tertiles at day 28 (P = 0.038 and P = 0.03). In high versus lower glucose tertiles, ROP was more prevalent (34 of 39 versus 19 of 39) and more severe (ROP stage 3 or higher; 71% versus 32%). In oxygen-induced retinopathy, hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia decreased liver IGF1 expression (P < 0.0001); rh-IGF1 treatment improved normal vascular regrowth (P = 0.027) and reduced neovascularization (P < 0.0001).CONCLUSION In extremely preterm infants, high early postnatal plasma glucose levels and signs of insulin insensitivity were associated with lower IGF1 levels and increased ROP severity. In a hyperglycemia retinopathy mouse model, decreased insulin signaling suppressed liver IGF1 production, lowered serum IGF1 levels, and increased neovascularization. IGF1 supplementation improved retinal revascularization and decreased pathological neovascularization. The data support IGF1 as a potential treatment for prevention of ROP.TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02760472 (Donna Mega).FUNDING This study has been supported by the Swedish Medical Research Council (14940, 4732, 20144-01-3, and 21144-01-3), a Swedish government grant (ALFGB2770), Lund medical faculty grants (ALFL, 11615 and 11601), the Skåne Council Foundation for Research and Development, the Linnéa and Josef Carlsson Foundation, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the NIH/National Eye Institute (EY022275, EY017017, EY017017-13S1, and P01 HD18655), European Commission FP7 project 305485 PREVENT-ROP, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (CA-1940/1-1), and Stiftelsen De Blindas Vänner.
Bertan Cakir, William Hellström, Yohei Tomita, Zhongjie Fu, Raffael Liegl, Anna Winberg, Ingrid Hansen-Pupp, David Ley, Ann Hellström, Chatarina Löfqvist, Lois E.H. Smith
Glaucoma surgeries, such as trabeculectomy, are performed to lower intraocular pressure to reduce risk of vision loss. These surgeries create a new passage in the eye that reroutes the aqueous humor outflow to the subconjunctival space, where the fluid is presumably absorbed by the conjunctival lymphatics. Here, we characterized the development and function of the ocular lymphatics using transgenic lymphatic reporter mice and rats. We found that the limbal and conjunctival lymphatic networks are progressively formed from a primary lymphatic vessel that grows from the nasal-side medial canthus region at birth. This primary lymphatic vessel immediately branches out, invades the limbus and conjunctiva, and bidirectionally encircles the cornea. As a result, the distribution of the ocular lymphatics is significantly polarized toward the nasal side, and the limbal lymphatics are directly connected to the conjunctival lymphatics. New lymphatic sprouts are produced mainly from the nasal-side limbal lymphatics, posing the nasal side of the eye as more responsive to fluid drainage and inflammatory stimuli. Consistent with this polarized distribution of the ocular lymphatics, a higher drainage efficiency was observed in the nasal side than the temporal side of the eye when injected with a fluorescent tracer. In contrast, blood vessels are evenly distributed at the anterior surface of the eyes. Also, we found that these distinct vascular distribution patterns were conserved in human eyes. Together, our study demonstrated that the ocular surface lymphatics are more densely present in the nasal side and uncovered the potential clinical benefits in selecting the nasal side as a glaucoma surgery site to improve fluid drainage.
Yifan Wu, Young Jin Seong, Kin Li, Dongwon Choi, Eunkyung Park, George H. Daghlian, Eunson Jung, Khoa Bui, Luping Zhao, Shrimika Madhavan, Saren Daghlian, Patill Daghlian, Desmond Chin, Il-Taeg Cho, Alex K. Wong, Martin Heur, Sandy Zhang-Nunes, James C. Tan, Masatsugu Ema, Tina T. Wong, Alex S. Huang, Young-Kwon Hong
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