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M. Cachafeiro, A.-P. Bemelmans, C. Kostic, M. Samardzija, M. Tekaya, D. Wanner, A. Wenzel, Y. Arsenijevic; Novel Relationship Between Vegf Expression and Retinal Pigmented Epithelium Permeability Following Light Damage in the Mouse Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):3524.
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In the retina, the balance between pro- and anti-angiogenic factors is critical for angiogenesis control but is also involved in cell survival and maintenance. For instance, the anti-angiogenic factor PEDF is neuroprotective for photoreceptors (PRs) in models of retinal degeneration. We previously reported upregulation of VEGF (24h to 48h post lesion) in the light-damage (LD) model. Furthermore, systemic delivery of PEDF, as well as lentiviral gene transfer of an anti-VEGF antibody rescue PRs from cell death. Studies in vitro show that VEGF induces retinal endothelial cells apoptosis via the alteration of the Akt1/p38 MAPK signalling pathway under hypoxic conditions. Thus, in this study, we investigate the effect of high levels of VEGF on retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) permeability and molecular targets expression after light-induced PR degeneration.
To characterize the action of VEGF in the retina during the course of LD, we exposed adult Balb/c mice to 5’000 lux for 1h, and we collected neural retinas and eye-cups (containing RPE) at different time points after the LD. We analysed protein expression by Elisa and Western blotting. In order to study RPE cell permeability after the LD we stained β-catenin on flat mounted RPE.
In the neural retina, preliminary results indicate that high levels of VEGF induce a significant upregulation of VEGF receptor 2, whereas VEGF receptor 1 expression is decreased. Concomitantly with VEGF upregulation, LD increases the Src phosphorylation between 24h to 48h. Furthermore, we observe that β-catenin translocates to the cytoplasm of RPE cells between 24h to 36h after the lesion, indicating an increase on the RPE permeability, which could contribute indirectly to the deleterious effect of VEGF observed during light-induced PR apoptosis.
This study further involves VEGF in LD and highlights the prime importance of angiogenic factor balance for PR survival. Our results suggest that PR apoptosis is augmented by RPE cell permeability, which may induce high level of VEGF and could be deleterious. The specific action of RPE permeability on PR survival and the role of Src in the retina are under investigation.
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