Retinal Degenerations

Pennock S, Haddock LJ, Mukai S, Kazlauskas A. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Acts Primarily via Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor α to Promote Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy. Am J Pathol 2014;Abstract

Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is a nonneovascular blinding disease and the leading cause for failure in surgical repair of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments. Once formed, PVR is difficult to treat. Hence, there is an acute interest in developing approaches to prevent PVR. Of the many growth factors and cytokines that accumulate in vitreous as PVR develops, neutralizing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A has recently been found to prevent PVR in at least one animal model. The goal of this study was to test if Food and Drug Administration-approved agents could protect the eye from PVR in multiple animal models and to further investigate the underlying mechanisms. Neutralizing VEGF with aflibercept (VEGF Trap-Eye) safely and effectively protected rabbits from PVR in multiple models of disease. Furthermore, aflibercept reduced the bioactivity of both experimental and clinical PVR vitreous. Finally, although VEGF could promote some PVR-associated cellular responses via VEGF receptors expressed on the retinal pigment epithelial cells that drive this disease, VEGF's major contribution to vitreal bioactivity occurred via platelet-derived growth factor receptor α. Thus, VEGF promotes PVR by a noncanonical ability to engage platelet-derived growth factor receptor α. These findings indicate that VEGF contributes to nonangiogenic diseases and that anti-VEGF-based therapies may be effective on a wider spectrum of diseases than previously appreciated.

Wang S, Sengel C, Emerson MM, Cepko CL. A gene regulatory network controls the binary fate decision of rod and bipolar cells in the vertebrate retina. Dev Cell 2014;30(5):513-27.Abstract
Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) regulate critical events during development. In complex tissues, such as the mammalian central nervous system (CNS), networks likely provide the complex regulatory interactions needed to direct the specification of the many CNS cell types. Here, we dissect a GRN that regulates a binary fate decision between two siblings in the murine retina, the rod photoreceptor and bipolar interneuron. The GRN centers on Blimp1, one of the transcription factors (TFs) that regulates the rod versus bipolar cell fate decision. We identified a cis-regulatory module (CRM), B108, that mimics Blimp1 expression. Deletion of genomic B108 by CRISPR/Cas9 in vivo using electroporation abolished the function of Blimp1. Otx2 and RORβ were found to regulate Blimp1 expression via B108, and Blimp1 and Otx2 were shown to form a negative feedback loop that regulates the level of Otx2, which regulates the production of the correct ratio of rods and bipolar cells.
Paschalis EI, Eliott D, Vavvas DG. Removal of Silicone Oil From Intraocular Lens Using Novel Surgical Materials. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2014;3(5):4.Abstract

PURPOSE: To design, fabricate, and evaluate novel materials to remove silicone oil (SiO) droplets from intraocular lenses (IOL) during vitreoretinal surgery. METHODS: Three different designs were fabricated using soft lithography of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), three-dimensional (3D) inverse PDMS fabrication using water dissolvable particles, and atomic layer deposition (ALD) of alumina (Al2O3) on surgical cellulose fibers. Laboratory tests included static and dynamic contact angle (CA) measurements with water and SiO, nondestructive x-ray microcomputer tomography (micro-CT), and microscopy. SiO removal was performed in vitro and ex vivo using implantable IOLs and explanted porcine eyes. RESULTS: All designs exhibited enhanced hydrophobicity and oleophilicity. Static CA measurements with water ranged from 131° to 160° and with SiO CA approximately 0° in 120 seconds following exposure. Nondestructive x-ray analysis of the 3D PDMS showed presence of interconnected polydispersed porosity of 100 to 300 μm in diameter. SiO removal from IOLs was achieved in vitro and ex vivo using standard 20-G vitrectomy instrumentation. CONCLUSION: Removal of SiO from IOLs can be achieved using materials with lower surface energy than that of the IOLs. This can be achieved using appropriate surface chemistry and surface topography. Three designs, with enhanced hydrophobic properties, were fabricated and tested in vitro and ex vivo. All materials remove SiO within an aqueous environment. Preliminary ex vivo results were very promising, opening new possibilities for SiO removal in vitreoretinal surgeries. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: This is the first report of an instrument that can lead to successful removal of SiO from the surface of IOL. In addition to the use of this instrument/material in medicine it can also be used in the industry, for example, retrieval of oil spills from bodies of water.

Murakami Y, Notomi S, Hisatomi T, Nakazawa T, Ishibashi T, Miller JW, Vavvas DG. Photoreceptor cell death and rescue in retinal detachment and degenerations. Prog Retin Eye Res 2013;37:114-40.Abstract
Photoreceptor cell death is the ultimate cause of vision loss in various retinal disorders, including retinal detachment (RD). Photoreceptor cell death has been thought to occur mainly through apoptosis, which is the most characterized form of programmed cell death. The caspase family of cysteine proteases plays a central role for inducing apoptosis, and in experimental models of RD, dying photoreceptor cells exhibit caspase activation; however, there is a paradox that caspase inhibition alone does not provide a sufficient protection against photoreceptor cell loss, suggesting that other mechanisms of cell death are involved. Recent accumulating evidence demonstrates that non-apoptotic forms of cell death, such as autophagy and necrosis, are also regulated by specific molecular machinery, such as those mediated by autophagy-related proteins and receptor-interacting protein kinases, respectively. Here we summarize the current knowledge of cell death signaling and its roles in photoreceptor cell death after RD and other retinal degenerative diseases. A body of studies indicate that not only apoptotic but also autophagic and necrotic signaling are involved in photoreceptor cell death, and that combined targeting of these pathways may be an effective neuroprotective strategy for retinal diseases associated with photoreceptor cell loss.
Liu Y, Yang X, Utheim TP, Guo C, Xiao M, Liu Y, Yin Z, Ma J. Correlation of cytokine levels and microglial cell infiltration during retinal degeneration in RCS rats. PLoS One 2013;8(12):e82061.Abstract
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.
Liu Q, Collin RWJ, Cremers FPM, den Hollander AI, van den Born IL, Pierce EA. Expression of wild-type Rp1 protein in Rp1 knock-in mice rescues the retinal degeneration phenotype. PLoS One 2012;7(8):e43251.Abstract
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.