Retinal Degenerations

Duda T, Wen X-H, Isayama T, Sharma RK, Makino CL. Bicarbonate Modulates Photoreceptor Guanylate Cyclase (ROS-GC) Catalytic Activity. J Biol Chem 2015;290(17):11052-60.Abstract

By generating the second messenger cGMP in retinal rods and cones, ROS-GC plays a central role in visual transduction. Guanylate cyclase-activating proteins (GCAPs) link cGMP synthesis to the light-induced fall in [Ca(2+)]i to help set absolute sensitivity and assure prompt recovery of the response to light. The present report discloses a surprising feature of this system: ROS-GC is a sensor of bicarbonate. Recombinant ROS-GCs synthesized cGMP from GTP at faster rates in the presence of bicarbonate with an ED50 of 27 mm for ROS-GC1 and 39 mm for ROS-GC2. The effect required neither Ca(2+) nor use of the GCAPs domains; however, stimulation of ROS-GC1 was more powerful in the presence of GCAP1 or GCAP2 at low [Ca(2+)]. When applied to retinal photoreceptors, bicarbonate enhanced the circulating current, decreased sensitivity to flashes, and accelerated flash response kinetics. Bicarbonate was effective when applied either to the outer or inner segment of red-sensitive cones. In contrast, bicarbonate exerted an effect when applied to the inner segment of rods but had little efficacy when applied to the outer segment. The findings define a new regulatory mechanism of the ROS-GC system that affects visual transduction and is likely to affect the course of retinal diseases caused by cGMP toxicity.

Kataoka K, Matsumoto H, Kaneko H, Notomi S, Takeuchi K, Sweigard JH, Atik A, Murakami Y, Connor KM, Terasaki H, Miller JW, Vavvas DG. Macrophage- and RIP3-dependent inflammasome activation exacerbates retinal detachment-induced photoreceptor cell death. Cell Death Dis 2015;6:e1731.Abstract

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.

Venturini G, Koskiniemi-Kuendig H, Harper S, Berson EL, Rivolta C. Two specific mutations are prevalent causes of recessive retinitis pigmentosa in North American patients of Jewish ancestry. Genet Med 2015;17(4):285-90.Abstract

PURPOSE: Retinitis pigmentosa is a Mendelian disease with a very elevated genetic heterogeneity. Most mutations are responsible for less than 1% of cases, making molecular diagnosis a multigene screening procedure. In this study, we assessed whether direct testing of specific alleles could be a valuable screening approach in cases characterized by prevalent founder mutations. METHODS: We screened 275 North American patients with recessive/isolate retinitis pigmentosa for two mutations: an Alu insertion in the MAK gene and the p.Lys42Glu missense in the DHDDS gene. All patients were unrelated; 35 reported Jewish ancestry and the remainder reported mixed ethnicity. RESULTS: We identified the MAK and DHDDS mutations homozygously in only 2.1% and 0.8%, respectively, of patients of mixed ethnicity, but in 25.7% and 8.6%, respectively, of cases reporting Jewish ancestry. Haplotype analyses revealed that inheritance of the MAK mutation was attributable to a founder effect. CONCLUSION: In contrast to most mutations associated with retinitis pigmentosa-which are, in general, extremely rare-the two alleles investigated here cause disease in approximately one-third of North American patients reporting Jewish ancestry. Therefore, their screening constitutes an alternative procedure to large-scale tests for patients belonging to this ethnic group, especially in time-sensitive situations.Genet Med 17 4, 285-290.

Andzelm MM, Cherry TJ, Harmin DA, Boeke AC, Lee C, Hemberg M, Pawlyk B, Malik AN, Flavell SW, Sandberg MA, Raviola E, Greenberg ME. MEF2D Drives Photoreceptor Development through a Genome-wide Competition for Tissue-Specific Enhancers. Neuron 2015;86(1):247-63.Abstract

Organismal development requires the precise coordination of genetic programs to regulate cell fate and function. MEF2 transcription factors (TFs) play essential roles in this process but how these broadly expressed factors contribute to the generation of specific cell types during development is poorly understood. Here we show that despite being expressed in virtually all mammalian tissues, in the retina MEF2D binds to retina-specific enhancers and controls photoreceptor cell development. MEF2D achieves specificity by cooperating with a retina-specific factor CRX, which recruits MEF2D away from canonical MEF2 binding sites and redirects it to retina-specific enhancers that lack the consensus MEF2-binding sequence. Once bound to retina-specific enhancers, MEF2D and CRX co-activate the expression of photoreceptor-specific genes that are critical for retinal function. These findings demonstrate that broadly expressed TFs acquire specific functions through competitive recruitment to enhancers by tissue-specific TFs and through selective activation of these enhancers to regulate tissue-specific genes.

Lei H, Qian CX, Lei J, Haddock LJ, Mukai S, Kazlauskas A. RasGAP Promotes Autophagy and Thereby Suppresses Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor-Mediated Signaling Events, Cellular Responses, and Pathology. Mol Cell Biol 2015;35(10):1673-85.Abstract
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.
Wang Z, Cheng R, Lee K, Tyagi P, Ding L, Kompella UB, Chen J, Xu X, Ma J-X. Nanoparticle-mediated expression of a wnt pathway inhibitor ameliorates ocular neovascularization. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2015;35(4):855-64.Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The deficiency of very low-density lipoprotein receptor resulted in Wnt signaling activation and neovascularization in the retina. The present study sought to determine whether the very low-density lipoprotein receptor extracellular domain (VLN) is responsible for the inhibition of Wnt signaling in ocular tissues. APPROACH AND RESULTS: A plasmid expressing the soluble VLN was encapsulated with poly(lactide-co-glycolide acid) to form VLN nanoparticles (VLN-NP). Nanoparticles containing a plasmid expressing the low-density lipoprotein receptor extracellular domain nanoparticle were used as negative control. MTT, modified Boyden chamber, and Matrigel (™) assays were used to evaluate the inhibitory effect of VLN-NP on Wnt3a-stimulated endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation. Vldlr(-/-) mice, oxygen-induced retinopathy, and alkali burn-induced corneal neovascularization models were used to evaluate the effect of VLN-NP on ocular neovascularization. Wnt reporter mice (BAT-gal), Western blotting, and luciferase assay were used to evaluate Wnt pathway activity. Our results showed that VLN-NP specifically inhibited Wnt3a-induced endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation. Intravitreal injection of VLN-NP inhibited abnormal neovascularization in Vldlr(-/-), oxygen-induced retinopathy, and alkali burn-induced corneal neovascularization models, compared with low-density lipoprotein receptor extracellular domain nanoparticle. VLN-NP significantly inhibited the phosphorylation of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6, the accumulation of β-catenin, and the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in vivo and in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, these results suggest that the soluble VLN is a negative regulator of the Wnt pathway and has antiangiogenic activities. Nanoparticle-mediated expression of VLN may thus represent a novel therapeutic approach to treat pathological ocular angiogenesis and potentially other vascular diseases affected by Wnt signaling.

Mehta M, Rasheed RA, Duker J, Reichel E, Feinberg E, Husain D, Foster CS, Laver NV. Vitreous evaluation: a diagnostic challenge. Ophthalmology 2015;122(3):531-7.Abstract

PURPOSE: To categorize vitrectomy cytologic diagnoses and ancillary tests to address appropriate processing of low-volume vitreous samples. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. PARTICIPANTS: Five thousand seven hundred thirty-six vitreous samples. METHODS: Cytologic diagnoses of therapeutic and diagnostic vitrectomy samples and their processing protocols from 3 teaching institutions were reviewed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Diagnostic results were categorized as negative for malignancy, suspicious for malignancy, and positive for malignancy. All ancillary studies performed were documented, including special stains, immunohistochemistry analysis, cytokine levels, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. RESULTS: Of the 5736 vitreous samples analyzed, 4683 (81.64%) were from Tufts Medical Center (TMC), 955 (16.65%) were from Boston Medical Center (BMC), and 98 (1.70%) were from Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (MERSI). Cases from TMC and BMC were therapeutic and diagnostic vitrectomies, and MERSI cases were diagnostic vitrectomies. Most vitrectomies showed negative results for malignancy: 99.47% of TMC cases, 99.89% of BMC cases, and 79.6% of MERSI cases. These included vitreous hemorrhage and inflammatory or infectious findings. Ancillary studies performed in this category included Periodic Acid-Schiff staining for fungi, PCR analysis for toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus I and II, and vitreous cultures for infections (coagulase-negative Staphylococcus, Candida, Fusarium, and Propionibacterium species). Interleukin (IL) 10-to-IL-6 ratios were performed on 38.7% of cases from MERSI. Fourteen cases from TMC were suspicious for malignancy based on cytologic evaluation. Eleven cases from TMC, 1 case from BMC, and 20 cases from MERSI showed positive results for malignancy and included B-cell lymphoma, retinoblastoma, melanoma, and metastatic adenocarcinoma. The ancillary testing included PCR for heavy chain immunoglobulin gene rearrangements, immunohistochemistry for EBV, in situ hybridization for κ and λ light chains, and cytogenetics. CONCLUSIONS: This is the largest data pool of reported cytologic diagnoses of diagnostic and therapeutic vitrectomy samples. Cytologic evaluation of therapeutic vitrectomy samples provides a valuable baseline of nonpathologic findings that assist in differentiation between malignancy, infections, and inflammatory conditions. Allocation of small-volume vitreous samples to select ancillary testing from the plethora of available diagnostic tests requires preoperative communication between surgeons and pathologists to ensure appropriate and timely treatment methods.

Farkas MH, Au ED, Sousa ME, Pierce EA. RNA-Seq: Improving Our Understanding of Retinal Biology and Disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2015;Abstract

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.

Hansen RM, Moskowitz A, Tavormina JL, Bush JN, Soni G, Fulton AB. Temporal summation in children with a history of retinopathy of prematurity. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015;56(2):914-7.Abstract

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.

Modjtahedi BS, Rong A, Bobinski M, McGahan J, Morse LS. Imaging characteristics of intraocular foreign bodies: a comparative study of plain film X-ray, computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging. Retina 2015;35(1):95-104.Abstract

PURPOSE: To determine the imaging features of common intraocular foreign bodies (IOFBs) and the ability to differentiate types of IOFBs. METHODS: Four-mm IOFBs were inserted via through pars plana approach into cadaveric lamb eyes. Six metallic (aluminum, brass, copper, silver, steel, and lead) and seven nonmetallic (plastic [CF6 spectacle plastic and polyvinyl chloride pipe], glass [bottle glass and windshield glass], wood [dry and wet poplar], and stone [slate]) IOFBs were imaged using plain film x-ray, computed tomography scan, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (T1, T2, and gradient echo sequences). RESULTS: Plain film x-ray had limited ability to differentiate most IOFBs. Computed tomography findings can be divided into low attenuation objects (wood), moderate attenuation (CF6 spectacle plastic), high attenuation without surrounding artifact (polyvinyl chloride, slate, bottle glass, windshield glass, and aluminum), high attenuation with shadow artifact and minimal edge streak artifact (steel, brass, copper), and high attenuation with significant shadow artifact and prominent streak artifact (silver and lead). Density (in Hounsfield units) aided in differentiating the types of IOFBs. Gradient echo sequences on magnetic resonance imaging also held utility. Ultrasound images had considerable overlap in appearances. CONCLUSION: Imaging techniques can significantly aid in determining the IOFBs type, with computed tomography serving as the best initial modality. X-ray holds limited utility while ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging are best reserved as adjunctive tests.

Bujakowska KM, Zhang Q, Siemiatkowska AM, Liu Q, Place E, Falk MJ, Consugar M, Lancelot M-E, Antonio A, Lonjou C, Carpentier W, Mohand-Saïd S, den Hollander AI, Cremers FPM, Leroy BP, Gai X, Sahel J-A, van den Born IL, Collin RWJ, Zeitz C, Audo I, Pierce EA. Mutations in IFT172 cause isolated retinal degeneration and Bardet-Biedl syndrome. Hum Mol Genet 2015;24(1):230-42.Abstract
Primary cilia are sensory organelles present on most mammalian cells. The assembly and maintenance of primary cilia are facilitated by intraflagellar transport (IFT), a bidirectional protein trafficking along the cilium. Mutations in genes coding for IFT components have been associated with a group of diseases called ciliopathies. These genetic disorders can affect a variety of organs including the retina. Using whole exome sequencing in three families, we identified mutations in Intraflagellar Transport 172 Homolog [IFT172 (Chlamydomonas)] that underlie an isolated retinal degeneration and Bardet-Biedl syndrome. Extensive functional analyses of the identified mutations in cell culture, rat retina and in zebrafish demonstrated their hypomorphic or null nature. It has recently been reported that mutations in IFT172 cause a severe ciliopathy syndrome involving skeletal, renal, hepatic and retinal abnormalities (Jeune and Mainzer-Saldino syndromes). Here, we report for the first time that mutations in this gene can also lead to an isolated form of retinal degeneration. The functional data for the mutations can partially explain milder phenotypes; however, the involvement of modifying alleles in the IFT172-associated phenotypes cannot be excluded. These findings expand the spectrum of disease associated with mutations in IFT172 and suggest that mutations in genes originally reported to be associated with syndromic ciliopathies should also be considered in subjects with non-syndromic retinal dystrophy.
Liu Q, Hu Y, Yu H, Yuan L, Hu J, Atik A, Guan M, Li D, Li X, Tang S. Comparison of intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide versus intravitreal bevacizumab as the primary treatment of clinically significant macular edema. Retina 2015;35(2):272-9.Abstract

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.

Duncker T, Tsang SH, Lee W, Zernant J, Allikmets R, Delori FC, Sparrow JR. Quantitative Fundus Autofluorescence Distinguishes ABCA4-Associated and Non-ABCA4-Associated Bull's-Eye Maculopathy. Ophthalmology 2015;122(2):345-55.Abstract

PURPOSE: Quantitative fundus autofluorescence (qAF) and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT) were performed in patients with bull's-eye maculopathy (BEM) to identify phenotypic markers that can aid in the differentiation of ABCA4-associated and non-ABCA4-associated disease. DESIGN: Prospective cross-sectional study at an academic referral center. SUBJECTS: Thirty-seven BEM patients (age range, 8-60 years) were studied. All patients exhibited a localized macular lesion exhibiting a smooth contour and qualitatively normal-appearing surrounding retina without flecks. Control values consisted of previously published data from 277 healthy subjects (374 eyes; age range, 5-60 years) without a family history of retinal dystrophy. METHODS: Autofluorescence (AF) images (30°, 488-nm excitation) were acquired with a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope equipped with an internal fluorescent reference to account for variable laser power and detector sensitivity. The grey levels (GLs) from 8 circularly arranged segments positioned at an eccentricity of approximately 7° to 9° in each image were calibrated to the reference (0 GL), magnification, and normative optical media density to yield qAF. In addition, horizontal SD OCT images through the fovea were obtained. All patients were screened for ABCA4 mutations using the ABCR600 microarray, next-generation sequencing, or both. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Quantitative AF, correlations between AF and SD OCT, and genotyping for ABCA4 variants. RESULTS: ABCA4 mutations were identified in 22 patients, who tended to be younger (mean age, 21.9±8.3 years) than patients without ABCA4 mutations (mean age, 42.1±14.9 years). Whereas phenotypic differences were not obvious on the basis of qualitative fundus AF and SD OCT imaging, with qAF, the 2 groups of patients were clearly distinguishable. In the ABCA4-positive group, 37 of 41 eyes (19 of 22 patients) had qAF8 of more than the 95% confidence interval for age. Conversely, in the ABCA4-negative group, 22 of 26 eyes (13 of 15 patients) had qAF8 within the normal range. CONCLUSIONS: The qAF method can differentiate between ABCA4-associated and non-ABCA4-associated BEM and may guide clinical diagnosis and genetic testing.

Murakami Y, Matsumoto H, Roh M, Giani A, Kataoka K, Morizane Y, Kayama M, Thanos A, Nakatake S, Notomi S, Hisatomi T, Ikeda Y, Ishibashi T, Connor KM, Miller JW, Vavvas DG. Programmed necrosis, not apoptosis, is a key mediator of cell loss and DAMP-mediated inflammation in dsRNA-induced retinal degeneration. Cell Death Differ 2014;21(2):270-7.Abstract
There is no known treatment for the dry form of an age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Cell death and inflammation are important biological processes thought to have central role in AMD. Here we show that receptor-interacting protein (RIP) kinase mediates necrosis and enhances inflammation in a mouse model of retinal degeneration induced by dsRNA, a component of drusen in AMD. In contrast to photoreceptor-induced apoptosis, subretinal injection of the dsRNA analog poly(I : C) caused necrosis of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), as well as macrophage infiltration into the outer retinas. In Rip3(-/-) mice, both necrosis and inflammation were prevented, providing substantial protection against poly(I : C)-induced retinal degeneration. Moreover, after poly(I : C) injection, Rip3(-/-) mice displayed decreased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as TNF-α and IL-6) in the retina, and attenuated intravitreal release of high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1), a major damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP). In vitro, poly(I : C)-induced necrosis were inhibited in Rip3-deficient RPE cells, which in turn suppressed HMGB1 release and dampened TNF-α and IL-6 induction evoked by necrotic supernatants. On the other hand, Rip3 deficiency did not modulate directly TNF-α and IL-6 production after poly(I : C) stimulation in RPE cells or macrophages. Therefore, programmed necrosis is crucial in dsRNA-induced retinal degeneration and may promote inflammation by regulating the release of intracellular DAMPs, suggesting novel therapeutic targets for diseases such as AMD.

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