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Jiawen Fan, Gezhi Xu, Tingting Jiang, Yaowu Qin; Pharmacologic Induction of Heme Oxygenase-1 Plays a Protective Role in Diabetic Retinopathy in Rats. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(10):6541-6556. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-9241.
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Weinvestigated the protective effects of HO-1, induced by hemin, in the retinas of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats, and document the possible anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative mechanisms underlying the protection.
Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were induced to diabetes by intraperitoneal injection of STZ (60 mg/kg). Later, some of the rats were given intraperitoneal injections of hemin (20 mg/kg) to induce expression of HO-1. The protective effects of hemin were evaluated by examining the hemoglobin concentration (Hb) and the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level of blood from the rats, further calculating the numbers of TUNEL positive cells in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) layer and diI-labeled RGCs. We also documented the expressions of HO-1, HIF-1α, SOD-1, VEGF, p53, and bcl-2 by Western blot analysis and real-time quantitative PCR. Expressions of Nrf2, tERK 1/2, and pERK 1/2 were detected only by Western blot analysis. HO-1, Nrf2, pERK, and GFAP proteins were detected by immunofluorescence.
The Hb level was higher in hemin-treated rat blood than nontreated diabetic group, while the HbA1c level was lower. Hemin significantly activated HO-1 expression in the retinas of diabetic rats, combined with accordant changes of Nrf2/pERK protein expression, and upregulated the expression of GFAP in retina. Retinal ganglion cells displayed greater sensitivity to apoptosis when the HO-1 level was lower. Overexpression of HO-1 was associated with an increase in the activation of SOD-1 and bcl-2, and a decrease of the expression of HIF-1α, VEGF, and p53.
HO-1 is an important positive modulator of the Nrf2/ERK-related signaling. Overexpression of HO-1 by hemin induction protected retinal ganglion cells in diabetic retinopathy through anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative effects.
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