PURPOSE: To assess whether quantitative fundus autofluorescence (qAF), a measure of RPE lipofuscin, and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) can aid in the differentiation of patients with fundus features that could either be related to ABCA4 mutations or be part of the phenotypic spectrum of pattern dystrophies. METHODS: Autofluorescence images (30°, 488-nm excitation) from 39 patients (67 eyes) were acquired with a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope equipped with an internal fluorescent reference and were quantified as previously described. In addition, horizontal SD-OCT images through the fovea were obtained. Patients were screened for ABCA4 and PRPH2/RDS mutations. RESULTS: ABCA4 mutations were identified in 19 patients (mean age, 37 ± 12 years) and PRPH2/RDS mutations in 8 patients (mean age, 48 ± 13 years); no known ABCA4 or PRPH2/RDS mutations were found in 12 patients (mean age, 48 ± 9 years). Differentiation of the groups using phenotypic SD-OCT and AF features (e.g., peripapillary sparing, foveal sparing) was not reliable. However, patients with ABCA4 mutations could be discriminated reasonably well from other patients when qAF values were corrected for age and race. In general, ABCA4 patients had higher qAF values than PRPH2/RDS patients, while most patients without mutations in PRPH2/RDS or ABCA4 had qAF levels within the normal range. CONCLUSIONS: The high qAF levels of ABCA4-positive patients are a hallmark of ABCA4-related disease. The reason for high qAF among many PRPH2/RDS-positive patients is not known; higher RPE lipofuscin accumulation may be a primary or secondary effect of the PRPH2/RDS mutation.
Autoimmune retinopathy (AIR) refers to a group of rare autoimmune retinal degenerative diseases presumably caused by cross-reactivity of serum autoantibodies against retinal antigens. The pathogenesis of AIR remains largely presumptive and there are a significant number of antiretinal antibodies that have been detected in association with AIR. The diagnosis of AIR is largely based on the demonstration of antiretinal antibodies in the serum along with suggestive clinical features and ancillary investigations. A high index of suspicion along with early diagnosis and treatment may play a critical role to lower the risk of irreversible immunological damage to the retinal cells in these patients. A multi-disciplinary approach for complete management and evaluation is helpful in such conditions. Various therapeutic options have been described for the treatment of AIR, though there is no consensus on standard treatment protocol.
Over the past several years, rapid technological advances have allowed for a dramatic increase in our knowledge and understanding of the transcriptional landscape, because of the ability to study gene expression in greater depth and with more detail than previously possible. To this end, RNA-Seq has quickly become one of the most widely used methods for studying transcriptomes of tissues and individual cells. Unlike previously favored analysis methods, RNA-Seq is extremely high-throughput, and is not dependent on an annotated transcriptome, laying the foundation for novel genetic discovery. Additionally, RNA-Seq derived transcriptomes provide a basis for widening the scope of research to identify potential targets in the treatment of retinal disease.
Mutations in the ubiquitously expressed pre-mRNA processing factors 3, 8, and 31 (PRPF3, PRPF8, and PRPF31) cause nonsyndromic dominant retinitis pigmentosa in humans, an inherited retinal degeneration. It is unclear what mechanisms, or which cell types of the retina, are affected. Transgenic mice with the human mutations in these genes display late-onset morphological changes in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). To determine whether the observed morphological changes are preceded by abnormal RPE function, we investigated its phagocytic function in Prpf3(T494M/T494M), Prpf8(H2309P/H2309P), and Prpf31(+/-) mice. We observe decreased phagocytosis in primary RPE cultures from mutant mice, and this is replicated by shRNA-mediated knockdown of PRPF31 in human ARPE-19 cells. The diurnal rhythmicity of phagocytosis is almost lost, indicated by the marked attenuation of the phagocytic burst 2 hours after light onset. The strength of adhesion between RPE apical microvilli and photoreceptor outer segments also declined during peak adhesion in all mutants. In all models, at least one of the receptors involved in binding and internalization of shed photoreceptor outer segments was subjected to changes in localization. Although the mechanism underlying these changes in RPE function is yet to be elucidated, these data are consistent with the mouse RPE being the primary cell affected by mutations in the RNA splicing factors, and these changes occur at an early age.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 1 (NMNAT1) is required for nuclear nicotinamide adenine mononucleotide (NAD+) biosynthesis in all nucleated cells, and despite its functional ubiquity, mutations in this gene lead to an isolated retinal degeneration. The mechanisms underlying how mutant NMNAT1 causes disease are not well understood, nor is the reason why the pathology is confined to the retina. Using a mouse model of NMNAT1-associated retinal degeneration that harbors the p.Val9Met mutation, we tested the hypothesis that decreased function of mutant NMNAT1 has a greater effect on the levels of NAD+ in the retina than elsewhere in the body. Measurements by liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry showed an early and sustained decrease of NAD+ in mutant retinas that was not observed in other tissues. To understand how consumers of nuclear NAD+ are affected by the reduced availability of NAD+ in mutant retinas, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and nuclear sirtuin activity were evaluated. PARP activity was elevated during disease progression, as evidenced by overproduction of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) in photoreceptors, whereas histone deacetylation activity of nuclear sirtuins was not altered. We hypothesized that PARP could be activated because of elevated levels of oxidative stress; however, we did not observe oxidative DNA damage, lipid peroxidation, or a low glutathione to oxidized glutathione ratio. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling staining revealed that photoreceptors appear to ultimately die by apoptosis, although the low NAD+ levels and overproduction of PAR suggest that cell death may include aspects of the parthanatos cell death pathway.
Inherited retinal degenerations are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of conditions that have historically shared an untreatable course. In recent years, however, a wide range of therapeutic strategies have demonstrated efficacy in preclinical studies and entered clinical trials with a common goal of improving visual function for patients affected with these conditions. Gene therapy offers a particularly elegant and precise opportunity to target the causative genetic mutations underlying these monogenic diseases. The present review will provide an overview of gene therapy with particular emphasis on key clinical results to date and challenges for the future.
PURPOSE: Inherited retinal dystrophies are a significant cause of vision loss and are characterized by the loss of photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Mutations in approximately 250 genes cause inherited retinal degenerations with a high degree of genetic heterogeneity. New techniques in next-generation sequencing are allowing the comprehensive analysis of all retinal disease genes thus changing the approach to the molecular diagnosis of inherited retinal dystrophies. This review serves to analyze clinical progress in genetic diagnostic testing and implications for retinal gene therapy. METHODS: A literature search of PubMed and OMIM was conducted to relevant articles in inherited retinal dystrophies. RESULTS: Next-generation genetic sequencing allows the simultaneous analysis of all the approximately 250 genes that cause inherited retinal dystrophies. Reported diagnostic rates range are high and range from 51% to 57%. These new sequencing tools are highly accurate with sensitivities of 97.9% and specificities of 100%. Retinal gene therapy clinical trials are underway for multiple genes including RPE65, ABCA4, CHM, RS1, MYO7A, CNGA3, CNGB3, ND4, and MERTK for which a molecular diagnosis may be beneficial for patients. CONCLUSION: Comprehensive next-generation genetic sequencing of all retinal dystrophy genes is changing the paradigm for how retinal specialists perform genetic testing for inherited retinal degenerations. Not only are high diagnostic yields obtained, but mutations in genes with novel clinical phenotypes are also identified. In the era of retinal gene therapy clinical trials, identifying specific genetic defects will increasingly be of use to identify patients who may enroll in clinical studies and benefit from novel therapies.
PURPOSE: To assess temporal summation in children with a history of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) by determining the critical duration (tCRIT) for complete temporal summation under rod-mediated conditions. From prior ERG studies, it is known that the kinetics of activation of phototransduction are prolonged in the ROP rod photoreceptor. METHODS: Dark-adapted thresholds for detecting 10° diameter stimuli with durations from 10 to 640 ms were measured. A two-alternative, spatial, forced-choice psychophysical procedure was used. The tCRIT for complete summation was estimated in former preterm subjects with a history of severe ROP (n = 7), mild ROP (n = 23), and no ROP (n = 15). The subjects ranged in age from 10.4 to 17.6 (median 15.6) years. Age-similar term-born control subjects (n = 5) were also tested. RESULTS: Critical duration was significantly longer in subjects with a history of ROP than in subjects who never had ROP or who were born at term. Mean tCRIT in the mild ROP group [127.5 (SD = 19.9) ms] and severe group [147.6 (SD = 18.9) ms] did not differ significantly, but both were significantly longer than in former preterms who never had ROP [101.1 (SD = 16.5) ms] and in term-born controls [101.0 (SD = 19.5) ms]. CONCLUSIONS: In ROP subjects, tCRIT is significantly prolonged. This is likely due to abnormal kinetics in the rod outer segment.
Ho AC, Humayun MS, Dorn JD, da Cruz L, Dagnelie G, Handa J, Barale P-O, Sahel J-A, Stanga PE, Hafezi F, Safran AB, Salzmann J, Santos A, Birch D, Spencer R, Cideciyan AV, de Juan E, Duncan JL, Eliott D, Fawzi A, Olmos de Koo LC, Brown GC, Haller JA, Regillo CD, Del Priore LV, Arditi A, Geruschat DR, Greenberg RJ, Greenberg RJ. Long-Term Results from an Epiretinal Prosthesis to Restore Sight to the Blind. Ophthalmology 2015;122(8):1547-54.Abstract
PURPOSE: Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited retinal degenerations leading to blindness due to photoreceptor loss. Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare disease, affecting only approximately 100 000 people in the United States. There is no cure and no approved medical therapy to slow or reverse RP. The purpose of this clinical trial was to evaluate the safety, reliability, and benefit of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (Second Sight Medical Products, Inc, Sylmar, CA) in restoring some visual function to subjects completely blind from RP. We report clinical trial results at 1 and 3 years after implantation. DESIGN: The study is a multicenter, single-arm, prospective clinical trial. PARTICIPANTS: There were 30 subjects in 10 centers in the United States and Europe. Subjects served as their own controls, that is, implanted eye versus fellow eye, and system on versus system off (native residual vision). METHODS: The Argus II System was implanted on and in a single eye (typically the worse-seeing eye) of blind subjects. Subjects wore glasses mounted with a small camera and a video processor that converted images into stimulation patterns sent to the electrode array on the retina. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measures were safety (the number, seriousness, and relatedness of adverse events) and visual function, as measured by 3 computer-based, objective tests. RESULTS: A total of 29 of 30 subjects had functioning Argus II Systems implants 3 years after implantation. Eleven subjects experienced a total of 23 serious device- or surgery-related adverse events. All were treated with standard ophthalmic care. As a group, subjects performed significantly better with the system on than off on all visual function tests and functional vision assessments. CONCLUSIONS: The 3-year results of the Argus II trial support the long-term safety profile and benefit of the Argus II System for patients blind from RP. Earlier results from this trial were used to gain approval of the Argus II by the Food and Drug Administration and a CE mark in Europe. The Argus II System is the first and only retinal implant to have both approvals.
PURPOSE: To investigate the expression of inflammatory cytokines in ARPE-19 cells after stimulation with cholesterol crystals. METHODS: APRE-19 cells were cultured, primed with IL-1α, and treated with cholesterol crystals under different concentrations. Inflammatory cytokines (mature-IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8) in supernatant and inflammatory cytokines (pro-IL-1β, IL-18) in cell lysate were detected by western blot. The NF-κB pathway inhibitor BAY 11-7082 was used to determine the pathway of cytokine expression. RESULTS: Cholesterol crystals did not induce the nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat containing family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, but did increase pro-IL-1β expression in ARPE-19 cells. Cholesterol crystals increased pro-IL-1β expression by activating the NF-κB pathway. Cholesterol crystal activation of the NF-κB pathway also leads to increased IL-6 and IL-8 expression. CONCLUSION: Cholesterol crystals can induce inflammatory cytokine expression in ARPE-19 cells by activating the NF-κB pathway.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetically heterogeneous disorder with an estimated prevalence of one in 4,000 that is classically characterized by the progressive constriction of peripheral vision and a later deterioration of visual acuity. Central vision can be compromised earlier in disease, however, in the approximately 25% of patients that have cystoid macular edema. This poorly understood problem can thus significantly impair patient quality of life, particularly as available treatments have limited efficacy. We will review clinical features of retinitis pigmentosa-associated cystoid macular edema, potential causative mechanisms, and finally, evidence supporting currently employed therapies with emphasis upon which management strategies require further evidence-based evaluation.
PURPOSE: With the advent of gene therapies for inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs), genetic diagnostics will have an increasing role in clinical decision-making. Yet the genetic cause of disease cannot be identified using exon-based sequencing for a significant portion of patients. We hypothesized that noncoding pathogenic variants contribute significantly to the genetic causality of IRDs and evaluated patients with single coding pathogenic variants in RPGRIP1 to test this hypothesis. METHODS: IRD families underwent targeted panel sequencing. Unsolved cases were explored by exome and genome sequencing looking for additional pathogenic variants. Candidate pathogenic variants were then validated by Sanger sequencing, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and in vitro splicing assays in two cell lines analyzed through amplicon sequencing. RESULTS: Among 1722 families, 3 had biallelic loss-of-function pathogenic variants in RPGRIP1 while 7 had a single disruptive coding pathogenic variants. Exome and genome sequencing revealed potential noncoding pathogenic variants in these 7 families. In 6, the noncoding pathogenic variants were shown to lead to loss of function in vitro. CONCLUSION: Noncoding pathogenic variants were identified in 6 of 7 families with single coding pathogenic variants in RPGRIP1. The results suggest that noncoding pathogenic variants contribute significantly to the genetic causality of IRDs and RPGRIP1-mediated IRDs are more common than previously thought.
Detachment of photoreceptors from the retinal pigment epithelium is seen in various retinal disorders, resulting in photoreceptor death and subsequent vision loss. Cell death results in the release of endogenous molecules that activate molecular platforms containing caspase-1, termed inflammasomes. Inflammasome activation in retinal diseases has been reported in some cases to be protective and in others to be detrimental, causing neuronal cell death. Moreover, the cellular source of inflammasomes in retinal disorders is not clear. Here, we demonstrate that patients with photoreceptor injury by retinal detachment (RD) have increased levels of cleaved IL-1β, an end product of inflammasome activation. In an animal model of RD, photoreceptor cell death led to activation of endogenous inflammasomes, and this activation was diminished by Rip3 deletion. The major source of Il1b expression was found to be infiltrating macrophages in the subretinal space, rather than dying photoreceptors. Inflammasome inhibition attenuated photoreceptor death after RD. Our data implicate the infiltrating macrophages as a source of damaging inflammasomes after photoreceptor detachment in a RIP3-dependent manner and suggest a novel therapeutic target for treatment of retinal diseases.
While growth factor-driven dimerization of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) is a simple and intuitive mechanism of activating RTKs, K.-I. Arimoto et al. (Mol. Cell. Biol. 34:3843-3854, 2014, doi:10.1128/MCB.00758-14) describe a novel means of promoting the activity of RTKs. Namely, plakophilin-2 (PKP2) associates with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and enhances its ligand-dependent and ligand-independent activity. This discovery suggests that antagonizing PKP2 may be a new therapeutic opportunity to combat tumors in which activation of EGFR contributes to pathogenesis.
Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs) and their receptors (PDGFRs) make profound contributions to both physiology and pathology. While it is widely believed that direct (PDGF-mediated) activation is the primary mode of activating PDGFRs, the discovery that they can also be activated indirectly begs the question of the relevance of the indirect mode of activating PDGFRs. In the context of a blinding eye disease, indirect activation of PDGFRα results in persistent signaling, which suppresses the level of p53 and thereby promotes viability of cells that drive pathogenesis. Under the same conditions, PDGFRβ fails to undergo indirect activation. In this paper, we report that RasGAP (GTPase-activating protein of Ras) prevented indirect activation of PDGFRβ. RasGAP, which associates with PDGFRβ but not PDGFRα, reduced the level of mitochondrion-derived reactive oxygen species, which are required for enduring activation of PDGFRs. Furthermore, preventing PDGFRβ from associating with RasGAP allowed it to signal enduringly and drive pathogenesis of a blinding eye disease. These results indicate a previously unappreciated role of RasGAP in antagonizing indirect activation of PDGFRβ, define the underlying mechanism, and raise the possibility that PDGFRβ-mediated diseases involve indirect activation of PDGFRβ.
Recent advances in viral vector engineering, as well as an increased understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanism of retinal diseases, have led to the development of novel gene therapy approaches. Furthermore, ease of accessibility and ocular immune privilege makes the retina an ideal target for gene therapies. In this study, the nuclear hormone receptor gene Nr2e3 was evaluated for efficacy as broad-spectrum therapy to attenuate early to intermediate stages of retinal degeneration in five unique mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is a group of heterogenic inherited retinal diseases associated with over 150 gene mutations, affecting over 1.5 million individuals worldwide. RP varies in age of onset, severity, and rate of progression. In addition, ~40% of RP patients cannot be genetically diagnosed, confounding the ability to develop personalized RP therapies. Remarkably, Nr2e3 administered therapy resulted in reduced retinal degeneration as observed by increase in photoreceptor cells, improved electroretinogram, and a dramatic molecular reset of key transcription factors and associated gene networks. These therapeutic effects improved retinal homeostasis in diseased tissue. Results of this study provide evidence that Nr2e3 can serve as a broad-spectrum therapy to treat multiple forms of RP.
Mutations in the retinitis pigmentosa 1 (RP1) gene are a common cause of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP), and have also been found to cause autosomal recessive RP (arRP) in a few families. The 33 dominant mutations and 6 recessive RP1 mutations identified to date are all nonsense or frameshift mutations, and almost exclusively (38 out of 39) are located in the 4(th) and final exon of RP1. To better understand the underlying disease mechanisms of and help develop therapeutic strategies for RP1 disease, we performed a series of human genetic and animal studies using gene targeted and transgenic mice. Here we report that a frameshift mutation in the 3(rd) exon of RP1 (c.686delC; p.P229QfsX35) found in a patient with recessive RP1 disease causes RP in the homozygous state, whereas the heterozygous carriers are unaffected, confirming that haploinsufficiency is not the causative mechanism for RP1 disease. We then generated Rp1 knock-in mice with a nonsense Q662X mutation in exon 4, as well as Rp1 transgenic mice carrying a wild-type BAC Rp1 transgene. The Rp1-Q662X allele produces a truncated Rp1 protein, and homozygous Rp1-Q662X mice experience a progressive photoreceptor degeneration characterized disorganization of photoreceptor outer segments. This phenotype could be prevented by expression of a normal amount of Rp1 protein from the BAC transgene without removal of the mutant Rp1-Q662X protein. Over-expression of Rp1 protein in additional BAC Rp1 transgenic lines resulted in retinal degeneration. These findings suggest that the truncated Rp1-Q662X protein does not exert a toxic gain-of-function effect. These results also imply that in principle gene augmentation therapy could be beneficial for both recessive and dominant RP1 patients, but the levels of RP1 protein delivered for therapy will have to be carefully controlled.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the short-term efficacy of triamcinolone acetonide versus bevacizumab for the treatment of diabetic, clinically significant, macular edema with different optical coherence tomography findings. METHODS: Fifty eyes of 45 consecutive patients with diabetic, clinically significant, macular edema were incorporated in this prospective interventional case series. Patients were divided into 3 groups according to findings on optical coherence tomography: 1) macular edema combined with serous retinal detachment (Group 1), 2) diffused macular thickening (Group 2), and 3) cystoid macular edema (Group 3). Patients from each group were treated with a single intravitreal injection of triamcinolone (IVTA) or 2 intravitreal injections of bevacizumab (IVB) with an interval of 6 weeks. Patients were observed at 6, 12, and 24 weeks after IVTA or the first IVB injection. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and central retinal thickness (CRT) were examined at each visit. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to compare the efficacy of the treatment groups. RESULTS: In Group 1, IVTA showed more favorable effects on CRT reduction and BCVA improvement compared with IVB at 6, 12, and 24 weeks (P = 0.002, 0.001, 0.027 and P = 0.036, 0.001, 0.027), respectively. In Group 2, IVB had more CRT reduction than IVTA at 6 and 12 weeks (P = 0.013 and 0.036), although there was no significant difference in BCVA improvement between the 2 groups (P > 0.05). In Group 3, IVTA and IVB did not have significant effects on CRT reduction and BCVA improvement (P > 0.05). CONCLUSION: The short-term efficacy of IVTA and IVB on treating clinically significant macular edema varied with different optical coherence tomography findings. In clinically significant macular edema combined with serous retinal detachment, IVTA may be more favorable than IVB in CRT reduction and BCVA improvement. In patients with diffused macular thickening, IVB may be better than IVTA in macular thickness reduction, although this does not translate to a significant improvement in BCVA.
Microglial cells, which are immunocompetent cells, are involved in all diseases of the central nervous system. During their activation in various diseases, a variety of soluble factors are released. In the present study, the correlation between cytokine levels and microglial cell migration in the course of retinal degeneration of Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats was evaluated. MFG-E8 and CD11b were used to confirm the microglial cells. In the retina of RCS rats, the mRNA expression of seven genes (MFG-E8 and its integrins αυ and ß5, CD11b and the cytokines TNF-α, IL-1ß, and MCP-1) formed almost similar bimodal peak distributions, which were centred at P7 and P45 to P60. In contrast, in rdy rats, which comprised the control group, a unimodal peak distribution centred at P14 was observed. The gene expression accompanied the activation and migration of microglial cells from the inner to the outer layer of the retina during the process of degeneration. Principal component analysis and discriminant function analysis revealed that the expression of these seven genes, especially TNF-α and CD11b, positively correlated with retinal degeneration and microglial activity during retinal degeneration in RCS rats, but not in the control rats. Furthermore, linear regression analysis demonstrated a significant correlation between the expression of these genes and the activation of microglial cells in the dystrophic retina. Our findings suggest that the suppression of microglial cells and the blockade of their cytotoxic effects may constitute a novel therapeutic strategy for treating photoreceptor death in various retinal disorders.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether postnatal weight at first detection of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) can predict preterm infants who will develop severe ROP warranting treatment. DESIGN: This modern, population-based cohort included 147 infants born at gestational age (GA) <32 weeks in the Gothenburg region during 2011-2012 and screened for ROP at Sahlgrenska University hospital. GA, birth weight (BW), and weekly postnatal weight from birth until postmenstrual age (PMA) 40 weeks data were retrospectively retrieved. Birth weight SD scores (BWSDS) were calculated. ROP data, including first detected ROP stage, maximal ROP stage, ROP treatment, and PMA at first detected sign of ROP were also retrieved. Weight SDS (WSDS) at first ROP detection was calculated. RESULTS: Stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that the best fit-model of risk factors for developing severe ROP warranting treatment included; GA (OR=0.28, CI 95% 0.12 to 0.66, p<0.01) and WSDS at first ROP detection (OR=0.22, CI 95% 0.05 to 0.89, p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Low weight and low WSDS at first ROP detection can be useful predictors for ROP warranting treatment.