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Laura Stevenson, Nuria Matesanz, Liza Colhoun, Kevin Edgar, Adrian Devine, Tom A. Gardiner, Denise M. McDonald; Reduced Nitro-oxidative Stress and Neural Cell Death Suggests a Protective Role for Microglial Cells in TNFα−/− Mice in Ischemic Retinopathy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(6):3291-3299. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4344.
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Neovascularization occurs in response to tissue ischemia and growth factor stimulation. In ischemic retinopathies, however, new vessels fail to restore the hypoxic tissue; instead, they infiltrate the transparent vitreous. In a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), TNFα and iNOS, upregulated in response to tissue ischemia, are cytotoxic and inhibit vascular repair. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism for this effect.
Wild-type C57/BL6 (WT) and TNFα−/− mice were subjected to OIR by exposure to 75% oxygen (postnatal days 7–12). The retinas were removed during the hypoxic phase of the model. Retinal cell death was determined by TUNEL staining, and the microglial cells were quantified after Z-series capture with a confocal microscope. In situ peroxynitrite and superoxide were measured by using the fluorescent dyes DCF and DHE. iNOS, nitrotyrosine, and arginase were analyzed by real-time PCR, Western blot analysis, and activity determined by radiolabeled arginine conversion. Astrocyte coverage was examined after GFAP immunostaining.
The TNFα−/− animals displayed a significant reduction in TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells in the inner nuclear layer of the avascular retina compared with that in the WT control mice. The reduction coincided with enhanced astrocytic survival and an increase in microglial cells actively engaged in phagocytosing apoptotic debris that displayed low ROS, RNS, and NO production and high arginase activity.
Collectively, the results suggest that improved vascular recovery in the absence of TNFα is associated with enhanced astrocyte survival and that both phenomena are dependent on preservation of microglial cells that display an anti-inflammatory phenotype during the early ischemic phase of OIR.
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