Retina

Yu H, Vu THK, Cho K-S, Guo C, Chen DF. Mobilizing endogenous stem cells for retinal repair. Transl Res 2014;163(4):387-98.Abstract
Irreversible vision loss is most often caused by the loss of function and subsequent death of retinal neurons, such as photoreceptor cells-the cells that initiate vision by capturing and transducing signals of light. One reason why retinal degenerative diseases are devastating is that, once retinal neurons are lost, they don't grow back. Stem cell-based cell replacement strategy for retinal degenerative diseases are leading the way in clinical trials of transplantation therapy, and the exciting findings in both human and animal models point to the possibility of restoring vision through a cell replacement regenerative approach. A less invasive method of retinal regeneration by mobilizing endogenous stem cells is, thus, highly desirable and promising for restoring vision. Although many obstacles remain to be overcome, the field of endogenous retinal repair is progressing at a rapid pace, with encouraging results in recent years.
Wen X-H, Dizhoor AM, Makino CL. Membrane guanylyl cyclase complexes shape the photoresponses of retinal rods and cones. Front Mol Neurosci 2014;7:45.Abstract
In vertebrate rods and cones, photon capture by rhodopsin leads to the destruction of cyclic GMP (cGMP) and the subsequent closure of cyclic nucleotide gated ion channels in the outer segment plasma membrane. Replenishment of cGMP and reopening of the channels limit the growth of the photon response and are requisite for its recovery. In different vertebrate retinas, there may be as many as four types of membrane guanylyl cyclases (GCs) for cGMP synthesis. Ten neuronal Ca(2+) sensor proteins could potentially modulate their activities. The mouse is proving to be an effective model for characterizing the roles of individual components because its relative simplicity can be reduced further by genetic engineering. There are two types of GC activating proteins (GCAPs) and two types of GCs in mouse rods, whereas cones express one type of GCAP and one type of GC. Mutant mouse rods and cones bereft of both GCAPs have large, long lasting photon responses. Thus, GCAPs normally mediate negative feedback tied to the light-induced decline in intracellular Ca(2+) that accelerates GC activity to curtail the growth and duration of the photon response. Rods from other mutant mice that express a single GCAP type reveal how the two GCAPs normally work together as a team. Because of its lower Ca(2+) affinity, GCAP1 is the first responder that senses the initial decrease in Ca(2+) following photon absorption and acts to limit response amplitude. GCAP2, with a higher Ca(2+) affinity, is recruited later during the course of the photon response as Ca(2+) levels continue to decline further. The main role of GCAP2 is to provide for a timely response recovery and it is particularly important after exposure to very bright light. The multiplicity of GC isozymes and GCAP homologs in the retinas of other vertebrates confers greater flexibility in shaping the photon responses in order to tune visual sensitivity, dynamic range and frequency response.
Saint-Geniez M, Ghelfi E, Liang X, Yu C, Spencer C, Abend S, Hotamisligil G, Cataltepe S. Fatty acid binding protein 4 deficiency protects against oxygen-induced retinopathy in mice. PLoS One 2014;9(5):e96253.Abstract
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of blindness in children worldwide due to increasing survival rates of premature infants. Initial suppression, followed by increased production of the retinal vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) expression are key events that trigger the pathological neovascularization in ROP. Fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4) is an intracellular lipid chaperone that is induced by VEGF in a subset of endothelial cells. FABP4 exhibits a pro-angiogenic function in cultured endothelial cells and in airway microvasculature, but whether it plays a role in modulation of retinal angiogenesis is not known. We hypothesized that FABP4 deficiency could ameliorate pathological retinal vascularization and investigated this hypothesis using a well-characterized mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR). We found that FABP4 was not expressed in retinal vessels, but was present in resident macrophages/microglial cells and endothelial cells of the hyaloid vasculature in the immature retina. While FABP4 expression was not required for normal development of retinal vessels, FABP4 expression was upregulated and localized to neovascular tufts in OIR. FABP4-/- mice demonstrated a significant decrease in neovessel formation as well as a significant improvement in physiological revascularization of the avascular retinal tissues. These alterations in retinal vasculature were accompanied by reduced endothelial cell proliferation, but no effect on apoptosis or macrophage/microglia recruitment. FABP4-/- OIR samples demonstrated decreased expression of genes involved in angiogenesis, such as Placental Growth Factor, and angiopoietin 2. Collectively, our findings suggest FABP4 as a potential target of pathologic retinal angiogenesis in proliferative retinopathies.
Sharma RK, Makino CL, Hicks D, Duda T. ROS-GC interlocked Ca(2+)-sensor S100B protein signaling in cone photoreceptors: review. Front Mol Neurosci 2014;7:21.Abstract
Photoreceptor rod outer segment membrane guanylate cyclase (ROS-GC) is central to visual transduction; it generates cyclic GMP, the second messenger of the photon signal. Photoexcited rhodopsin initiates a biochemical cascade that leads to a drop in the intracellular level of cyclic GMP and closure of cyclic nucleotide gated ion channels. Recovery of the photoresponse requires resynthesis of cyclic GMP, typically by a pair of ROS-GCs, 1 and 2. In rods, ROS-GCs exist as complexes with guanylate cyclase activating proteins (GCAPs), which are Ca(2+)-sensing elements. There is a light-induced fall in intracellular Ca(2+). As Ca(2+) dissociates from GCAPs in the 20-200 nM range, ROS-GC activity rises to quicken the photoresponse recovery. GCAPs then progressively turn down ROS-GC activity as Ca(2+) and cyclic GMP levels return to baseline. To date, GCAPs mediate the only known mechanism of ROS-GC regulation in the photoreceptors. However, in mammalian cone outer segments, cone synapses and ON bipolar cells, another Ca(2+) sensor protein, S100B, complexes with ROS-GC1 and senses the Ca(2+) signal with a K1/2 of 400 nM. Unlike GCAPs, S100B stimulates ROS-GC activity when Ca(2+) is bound. Thus, the ROS-GC system in cones functions as a Ca(2+) bimodal switch; with rising intracellular Ca(2+), its activity is first turned down by GCAPs and then turned up by S100B. This presentation provides a historical perspective on the role of S100B in the photoreceptors, offers a pictorial model for the "bimodal" operation of the ROS-GC switch and projects future tasks that are needed to understand its operation. Some accounts of this review have been adopted from the original publications of these authors.
Matsumoto H, Kataoka K, Tsoka P, Connor KM, Miller JW, Vavvas DG. Strain difference in photoreceptor cell death after retinal detachment in mice. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2014;55(7):4165-74.Abstract
PURPOSE: To evaluate the potential for mouse genetic background to effect photoreceptor cell death in response to experimental retinal detachment (RD). METHODS: Retinal detachment was induced in three inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6, BALB/c, and B6129SF2) by subretinal injection of sodium hyaluronate. A time course of photoreceptor cell death was assessed by TUNEL assay. Total photoreceptor cell death was analyzed through comparing the outer nuclear layer (ONL)/inner nuclear layer (INL) ratio 7 days post RD. Western blot analysis or quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) were performed to assess cell death signaling, expression of endogenous neurotrophin, and levels of apoptosis inhibitors 24 hours after RD. Inflammatory cytokine secretion and inflammatory cell infiltration were quantified by ELISA and immunostaining, respectively. RESULTS: The peak of photoreceptor cell death after RD was at 24 hours in all strains. Photoreceptor cell death as well as monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and interleukin 6 secretion at 24 hours after RD was the highest in BALB/c, followed in order of magnitude by C57BL/6 and B6129SF2. Conversely, nerve growth factor expression and ONL/INL ratio were the lowest in BALB/c. Apoptosis signaling was higher in C57BL/6, whereas necroptosis signaling was higher in C57BL/6 and BALB/c. Autophagic signaling was higher in BALB/c. X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) and survivin protein levels were lower in C57BL/6 and BALB/c, respectively. Macrophage/microglia infiltration was higher in C57BL/6 and BALB/c at 24 hours after RD. CONCLUSIONS: Photoreceptor cell death after RD was significantly different among the three strains, suggesting the presence of genetic factors that affect photoreceptor cell death after RD.
Matsumoto H, Murakami Y, Kataoka K, Lin H, Connor KM, Miller JW, Zhou D, Avruch J, Vavvas DG. Mammalian STE20-like kinase 2, not kinase 1, mediates photoreceptor cell death during retinal detachment. Cell Death Dis 2014;5:e1269.Abstract
Photoreceptor cell death is the definitive cause of vision loss in retinal detachment (RD). Mammalian STE20-like kinase (MST) is a master regulator of both cell death and proliferation and a critical factor in development and tumorigenesis. However, to date the role of MST in neurodegeneration has not been fully explored. Utilizing MST1(-/-) and MST2(-/-) mice we identified MST2, but not MST1, as a regulator of photoreceptor cell death in a mouse model of RD. MST2(-/-) mice demonstrated significantly decreased photoreceptor cell death and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thinning after RD. Additionally, caspase-3 activation was attenuated in MST2(-/-) mice compared to control mice after RD. The transcription of p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) and Fas was also reduced in MST2(-/-) mice post-RD. Retinas of MST2(-/-) mice displayed suppressed nuclear relocalization of phosphorylated YAP after RD. Consistent with the reduction of photoreceptor cell death, MST2(-/-) mice showed decreased levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and interleukin 6 as well as attenuated inflammatory CD11b cell infiltration during the early phase of RD. These results identify MST2, not MST1, as a critical regulator of caspase-mediated photoreceptor cell death in the detached retina and indicate its potential as a future neuroprotection target.
Michan S, Juan AM, Hurst CG, Cui Z, Evans LP, Hatton CJ, Pei DT, Ju M, Sinclair DA, Smith LEH, Chen J. Sirtuin1 over-expression does not impact retinal vascular and neuronal degeneration in a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. PLoS One 2014;9(1):e85031.Abstract
Proliferative retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness, including retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in children and diabetic retinopathy in adults. Retinopathy is characterized by an initial phase of vessel loss, leading to tissue ischemia and hypoxia, followed by sight threatening pathologic neovascularization in the second phase. Previously we found that Sirtuin1 (Sirt1), a metabolically dependent protein deacetylase, regulates vascular regeneration in a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy (OIR), as neuronal depletion of Sirt1 in retina worsens retinopathy. In this study we assessed whether over-expression of Sirtuin1 in retinal neurons and vessels achieved by crossing Sirt1 over-expressing flox mice with Nestin-Cre mice or Tie2-Cre mice, respectively, may protect against retinopathy. We found that over-expression of Sirt1 in Nestin expressing retinal neurons does not impact vaso-obliteration or pathologic neovascularization in OIR, nor does it influence neuronal degeneration in OIR. Similarly, increased expression of Sirt1 in Tie2 expressing vascular endothelial cells and monocytes/macrophages does not protect retinal vessels in OIR. In addition to the genetic approaches, dietary supplement with Sirt1 activators, resveratrol or SRT1720, were fed to wild type mice with OIR. Neither treatment showed significant vaso-protective effects in retinopathy. Together these results indicate that although endogenous Sirt1 is important as a stress-induced protector in retinopathy, over-expression of Sirt1 or treatment with small molecule activators at the examined doses do not provide additional protection against retinopathy in mice. Further studies are needed to examine in depth whether increasing levels of Sirt1 may serve as a potential therapeutic approach to treat or prevent retinopathy.
Ma J, Mehta M, Lam G, Cyr D, Ng TF, Hirose T, Tawansy KA, Taylor AW, Lashkari K. Influence of subretinal fluid in advanced stage retinopathy of prematurity on proangiogenic response and cell proliferation. Mol Vis 2014;20:881-93.Abstract
PURPOSE: The clinical phenotype of advanced stage retinopathy of prematurity (ROP, stages 4 and 5) cannot be replicated in an animal model. To dissect the molecular events that can lead up to advanced ROP, we examined subretinal fluid (SRF) and surgically dissected retrolental membranes from patients with advanced ROP to evaluate its influences on cell proliferation, angiogenic properties, and macrophage polarity. METHODS: We compared our findings to SRF collected from patients with uncomplicated rhegmatogenous retinal detachment (RD) without proliferative vitreoretinopathy and surgically dissected epiretinal membrane from eyes with macular pucker. All subretinal fluid samples were equalized for protein. The angiogenic potential of SRF from ROP eyes was measured using a combination of capillary cord formation in a fibrin clot assay, and its proliferative effect was tested with a DNA synthesis of human retinal microvascular endothelial cells. Findings were compared with SRF collected from participants with uncomplicated rhegmatogenous RD without proliferative vitreoretinopathy. The ability of SRF to induce nitric oxide production was measured in vitro using murine J774A.1 macrophages. Cytokine profiles of SRF from ROP and RD eyes were measured using a multienzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Fluorescent immunohistochemistry of retrolental membranes from ROP was performed to detect the presence of leukocytes and the composition of tissue macrophages using markers for M1 and M2 differentiation. RESULTS: The cytokine composition in SRF revealed that in ROP, not only were several proangiogenic factors were preferentially elevated but also the profile of proinflammatory factors was also increased compared to the RD eyes. SRF from ROP eyes supported cell proliferation and endothelial cord formation while SRF from RD eyes had inhibitory effects. SRF from eyes with ROP but not RD robustly induced nitric oxide production in macrophages. Furthermore, fluorescent immunostaining revealed a preponderance of M1 over M2 macrophages in retrolental fibrous membranes from ROP eyes. The cytokine profile and biologic properties of SRF in ROP promote a proangiogenic environment, which supports the maintenance and proliferation of fibrous membranes associated with advanced stages of ROP. In contrast, SRF from RD eyes exhibits a suppressive environment for endothelial cell proliferation and angiogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: Our investigation demonstrates that the microenvironment in advanced ROP eyes is proangiogenic and proinflammatory. These findings suggest that management of advanced ROP should not be limited to the surgical removal of the fibrovascular membranes and antiangiogenic therapy but also directed to anti-inflammatory therapy and to promote M2 activation over M1 activity.
Cho HY, Nasir HH, Sobrin L. Focal laser photocoagulation and photodynamic therapy for lupus choroidopathy. Lupus 2014;23(4):412-6.Abstract
PURPOSE: To describe the results of photodynamic therapy (PDT) and/or focal laser photocoagulation in the treatment of serous retinal detachments secondary to lupus choroidopathy. METHODS: The medical records of three patients with serous detachments secondary to lupus choroidopathy who were treated with PDT and/or focal laser photocoagulation were reviewed. Concomitant systemic medical therapy as well as visual acuity and optical coherence tomography (OCT) outcomes were recorded. RESULTS: All patients received systemic immunosuppressive therapy and had control of their extraocular manifestations prior to PDT and/or laser photocoagulation. One patient received only focal laser photocoagulation and had complete resolution of the subretinal fluid on OCT. The two other patients received a combination of PDT and focal laser treatment. One had improvement in vision and resolution of subretinal fluid on OCT. The second patient, who had longstanding lupus choroidopathy and associated subretinal fluid and macular edema, had only a significant decrease in fluid on OCT but no vision improvement. CONCLUSION: In conjunction with control of systemic disease, PDT and/or focal laser photocoagulation can be successful in resolving subretinal fluid secondary to lupus choroidopathy.
Chen L, Kim IK, Lane AM, Gauthier D, Munzenrider JE, Gragoudas ES, Miller JW. Proton beam irradiation for non-AMD CNV: 2-year results of a randomised clinical trial. Br J Ophthalmol 2014;98(9):1212-7.Abstract
AIMS: To evaluate safety and visual outcomes after proton beam irradiation (PBI) therapy for subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) secondary to causes other than age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: This study is a prospective, unmasked and randomised clinical trial using two dosage regimens, conducted in the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. The study included 46 patients with CNV secondary to non-AMD and best-corrected visual acuity of 20/320 or better. Patients were randomly assigned to receive 16 or 24 cobalt gray equivalents (CGE) of PBI in two equal fractions. Complete ophthalmological examinations, fundus photography and fluorescein angiography were performed at baseline and 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after treatment. RESULTS: At 1 year after treatment, 82% and 72% lost fewer than 1.5 lines of vision in the 16 CGE and in 24 CGE groups, respectively. At 2 years after therapy, 77% in the lower dose group and 64% in the higher dose group lost fewer than 1.5 lines of vision. Mild radiation complications such as radiation vasculopathy developed in 17.6% of patients. CONCLUSIONS: PBI is a safe and efficacious treatment for subfoveal CNV not due to AMD. The data with respect to visual outcomes and radiation complications trend in favour of the 16 CGE group, although differences do not reach statistical significance. PBI may be considered as an alternative to current therapies.
Samuel MA, Voinescu EP, Lilley BN, de Cabo R, Foretz M, Viollet B, Pawlyk B, Sandberg MA, Vavvas DG, Sanes JR. LKB1 and AMPK regulate synaptic remodeling in old age. Nat Neurosci 2014;17(9):1190-7.Abstract
Age-related decreases in neural function result in part from alterations in synapses. To identify molecular defects that lead to such changes, we focused on the outer retina, in which synapses are markedly altered in old rodents and humans. We found that the serine/threonine kinase LKB1 and one of its substrates, AMPK, regulate this process. In old mice, synaptic remodeling was accompanied by specific decreases in the levels of total LKB1 and active (phosphorylated) AMPK. In the absence of either kinase, young adult mice developed retinal defects similar to those that occurred in old wild-type animals. LKB1 and AMPK function in rod photoreceptors where their loss leads to aberrant axonal retraction, the extension of postsynaptic dendrites and the formation of ectopic synapses. Conversely, increasing AMPK activity genetically or pharmacologically attenuates and may reverse age-related synaptic alterations. Together, these results identify molecular determinants of age-related synaptic remodeling and suggest strategies for attenuating these changes.
Alasil T, Wang K, Keane PA, Lee H, Baniasadi N, de Boer JF, Chen TC. Analysis of normal retinal nerve fiber layer thickness by age, sex, and race using spectral domain optical coherence tomography. J Glaucoma 2013;22(7):532-41.Abstract
PURPOSE: To determine the effects of age, sex, and race on the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) in the normal human eye as measured by the spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) Spectralis machine (Heidelberg Engineering). METHODS: Peripapillary SD-OCT RNFL thickness measurements were determined in normal subjects seen at a university-based clinic. One randomly selected eye per subject was used for analysis in this cross-sectional study. Multiple regression analysis was applied to assess the effects of age, sex, ethnicity, and mean refractive error on peripapillary RNFL thickness. Results are expressed as means±SD wherever applicable. RESULTS: The study population consisted of 190 healthy participants from 9 to 86 years of age. Of the 190 participants, 62 (33%) were men, 125 (66%) Caucasians, 26 (14%) African Americans, 14 (7%) Hispanics, 16 (8%) Asians, and 9 (5%) other races. The mean RNFL thickness for the normal population studied was 97.3 ± 9.6 µm. Normal RNFL thickness values follow the ISNT rule with decreasing RNFL thickness values starting from the thickest quadrant inferiorly to the thinnest quadrant temporally: inferior quadrant (126 ± 15.8), superior quadrant (117.2±16.13), nasal quadrant (75 ± 13.9), and temporal quadrant (70.6 ± 10.8 µm). Thinner RNFL measurements were associated with older age (P<0.001); being Caucasian, versus being either Hispanic or Asian (P=0.02 and 0.009, respectively); or being more myopic (P<0.001). For every decade of increased age, mean RNFL thickness measured thinner by approximately 1.5 µm (95% confidence interval, 0.24-0.07). Comparisons between ethnic groups revealed that Caucasians had mean RNFL values (96 ± 9.2 µm) slightly thinner than those of Hispanics (102.9 ± 11 µm; P=0.02) or Asians (100.7 ± 8.5 µm; P=0.009). African Americans RNFL values (99.2 ± 10.2 µm) were not significantly different when compared with Caucasians. There was no relationship between RNFL thickness and sex. CONCLUSIONS: The thickest RNFL measurements were found in the inferior quadrant, followed by the superior, nasal, and temporal quadrants (ISNT rule applied to the RNFL). Thinner RNFL measurements were associated with older age and increasing myopia. Caucasians tend to have thinner RNFL values when compared with Hispanics and Asians. SD-OCT analysis of the normal RNFL showed results similar to time domain OCT studies.
Emerson MM, Surzenko N, Goetz JJ, Trimarchi J, Cepko CL. Otx2 and Onecut1 promote the fates of cone photoreceptors and horizontal cells and repress rod photoreceptors. Dev Cell 2013;26(1):59-72.Abstract
Cone photoreceptors carry out phototransduction in daylight conditions and provide the critical first step in color vision. Despite their importance, little is known about the developmental mechanisms involved in their generation, particularly how they are determined relative to rod photoreceptors, the cells that initiate vision in dim light. Here, we report the identification of a cis-regulatory module (CRM) for the thyroid hormone receptor beta (Thrb) gene, an early cone marker. We found that ThrbCRM1 is active in progenitor cells biased to the production of cones and an interneuronal cell type, the horizontal cell (HC). Molecular analysis of ThrbCRM1 revealed that it is combinatorially regulated by the Otx2 and Onecut1 transcription factors. Onecut1 is sufficient to induce cells with the earliest markers of cones and HCs. Conversely, interference with Onecut1 transcriptional activity leads to precocious rod development, suggesting that Onecut1 is critically important in defining cone versus rod fates.
Farkas MH, Grant GR, White JA, Sousa ME, Consugar MB, Pierce EA. Transcriptome analyses of the human retina identify unprecedented transcript diversity and 3.5 Mb of novel transcribed sequence via significant alternative splicing and novel genes. BMC Genomics 2013;14:486.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The retina is a complex tissue comprised of multiple cell types that is affected by a diverse set of diseases that are important causes of vision loss. Characterizing the transcripts, both annotated and novel, that are expressed in a given tissue has become vital for understanding the mechanisms underlying the pathology of disease. RESULTS: We sequenced RNA prepared from three normal human retinas and characterized the retinal transcriptome at an unprecedented level due to the increased depth of sampling provided by the RNA-seq approach. We used a non-redundant reference transcriptome from all of the empirically-determined human reference tracks to identify annotated and novel sequences expressed in the retina. We detected 79,915 novel alternative splicing events, including 29,887 novel exons, 21,757 3' and 5' alternate splice sites, and 28,271 exon skipping events. We also identified 116 potential novel genes. These data represent a significant addition to the annotated human transcriptome. For example, the novel exons detected increase the number of identified exons by 3%. Using a high-throughput RNA capture approach to validate 14,696 of these novel transcriptome features we found that 99% of the putative novel events can be reproducibly detected. Further, 15-36% of the novel splicing events maintain an open reading frame, suggesting they produce novel protein products. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first application of RNA capture to perform large-scale validation of novel transcriptome features. In total, these analyses provide extensive detail about a previously uncharacterized level of transcript diversity in the human retina.

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