Date Published:2016 Jun 20
AIMS: Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD), a leading cause of age-related corneal edema requiring transplantation, is characterized by rosette formation of corneal endothelium with ensuing apoptosis. We sought to determine whether excess of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species leads to chronic accumulation of oxidative DNA damage and mitochondrial dysfunction, instigating cell death. RESULTS: We modeled the pathognomonic rosette formation of postmitotic corneal cells by increasing endogenous cellular oxidative stress with menadione (MN) and performed a temporal analysis of its effect in normal (HCEnC, HCECi) and FECD (FECDi) cells and ex vivo specimens. FECDi and FECD ex vivo specimens exhibited extensive mtDNA and nDNA damage as detected by quantitative PCR. Exposure to MN triggered an increase in mitochondrial superoxide levels and led to mtDNA and nDNA damage, while DNA amplification was restored with NAC pretreatment. Furthermore, MN exposure led to a decrease in ΔΨm and adenosine triphosphate levels in normal cells, while FECDi exhibited mitochondrial dysfunction at baseline. Mitochondrial fragmentation and cytochrome c release were detected in FECD tissue and after MN treatment of HCEnCs. Furthermore, cleavage of caspase-9 and caspase-3 followed MN-induced cytochrome c release in HCEnCs. INNOVATION: This study provides the first line of evidence that accumulation of oxidative DNA damage leads to rosette formation, loss of functionally intact mitochondria via fragmentation, and subsequent cell death during postmitotic cell degeneration of ocular tissue. CONCLUSION: MN induced rosette formation, along with mtDNA and nDNA damage, mitochondrial dysfunction, and fragmentation, leading to activation of the intrinsic apoptosis via caspase cleavage and cytochrome c release. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 24, 1072-1083.