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Balabharathi Burugula, Bhagyalaxmi S. Ganesh, Shravan K. Chintala; Curcumin Attenuates Staurosporine-Mediated Death of Retinal Ganglion Cells. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(7):4263-4273. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-7103.
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Staurosporine (SS) causes retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death in vivo, but the underlying mechanisms have been unclear. Since previous studies on RGC-5 cells indicated that SS induces cell death by elevating proteases, this study was undertaken to investigate whether SS induces RGC loss by elevating proteases in the retina, and curcumin prevents SS-mediated death of RGCs.
Transformed mouse retinal ganglion-like cells (RGC-5) were treated with 2.0 μM SS and various doses of curcumin. Two optimal doses of SS (12.5 and 100 nM) and curcumin (2.5 and 10 μM) were injected into the vitreous of C57BL/6 mice. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) activities were assessed by zymography assays. Viability of RGC-5 cells was assessed by MTT assays. RGC and amacrine cell loss in vivo was assessed by immunostaining with Brn3a and ChAT antibodies, respectively. Frozen retinal cross sections were immunostained for nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB).
Staurosporine induced uPA and tPA levels in RGC-5 cells, and MMP-9, uPA, and tPA levels in the retinas and promoted the death of RGC-5 cells in vitro and RGCs and amacrine cells in vivo. In contrast, curcumin attenuated RGC and amacrine cell loss, despite elevated levels of proteases. An NF-κB inhibitory peptide reversed curcumin-mediated protective effect on RGC-5 cells, but did not inhibit protease levels. Curcumin did not inhibit protease levels in vivo, but attenuated RGC and amacrine cell loss by restoring NF-κB expression.
The results show that curcumin attenuates RGC and amacrine cell death despite elevated levels of proteases and raises the possibility that it may be used as a plausible adjuvant therapeutic agent to prevent the loss of these cells in retinal degenerative conditions.
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