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Ling Zheng, Bendi Gong, Denise A. Hatala, Timothy S. Kern; Retinal Ischemia and Reperfusion Causes Capillary Degeneration: Similarities to Diabetes. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(1):361-367. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-0510.
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purpose. Retinal neurons and vasculature interact with each other under normal conditions, and occlusion of the retinal vasculature can result in damage to retinal neurons. Whether damage to the neural retina will damage the vasculature, however, is less clear. This study was conducted to explore the relationship between vascular and nonvascular cells of the retina. The response of the retinal vasculature to an injury (ischemia and reperfusion; I/R) that is known to cause neuronal degeneration was studied.
methods. I/R injury to the retinas was induced in Lewis rats and C57BL/6J mice by elevating intraocular pressure (IOP), and reperfusion was established immediately afterward. Some rats were pretreated with aminoguanidine (AMG, 50 mg/Kg BW in drinking water) before the procedure. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activity and expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and cycloxygenase-2 (COX-2) were measured by Western blot analysis, and levels of TNF-α and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 mRNA were measured by qPCR at 2 and 7 days after the procedure. Also at 2 and 7 days after the I/R injury, apoptosis of retinal neural cells (demonstrated by TUNEL assay), density of cells in the ganglion cell layer, and thickness of retinas were quantitated, and the number of TUNEL-positive capillary cells and degenerated capillaries were assessed. Retinal neurodegeneration and capillary degeneration were also examined in C57BL/6J mice 2, 5, 8, and 14 days after I/R injury.
results. As expected, loss of cells in the retinal ganglion cell layer was apparent 2 days after I/R injury in the rat and mouse models. In contrast, the retinal vasculature had essentially no pathology at this time in either model. Surprisingly, the number of degenerated capillaries increased greatly by 7 to 8 days after the injury. Administration of aminoguanidine significantly inhibited the I/R-induced capillary degeneration as well as neurodegeneration in the rat model. Retinal I/R caused increased PARP activity (detected by poly(ADP-ribosy)lated proteins), as well as upregulation of iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, and ICAM-1 levels in rats, consistent with an inflammatory process.
conclusions. Capillary degeneration is an unrecognized component of acutely elevated IOP and develops only after neurodegeneration is severe. Thus, this finding raises the possibility that damage to the neural retina contributes to capillary degeneration. Aminoguanidine, a nonspecific inhibitor of iNOS, inhibited I/R-induced degeneration of both neuronal and vascular cells of the retina. The model of retinal ischemia and reperfusion will be a useful tool for investigating the relationship between neuronal damage and vascular damage in glaucoma and other diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.
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