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Shinsuke Nakamura, Masamitsu Shimazawa, Yuki Inoue, Shinsuke Takata, Yasushi Ito, Kazuhiro Tsuruma, Tsunehiko Ikeda, Akiko Honda, Masahiko Satoh, Hideaki Hara; Role of Metallothioneins 1 and 2 in Ocular Neovascularization. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(10):6851-6860. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.14-14545.
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The incidence of blindness is increasing, in part, because of abnormal ocular neovascularization. Anti-VEGF therapies have yielded impressive results; however, they are not a cure for blindness. Recently, metallothioneins (MTs) 1 and 2 have been implicated in the process of angiogenesis. Therefore, we investigated whether MT-1 and MT-2 were also involved in ocular neovascularization.
The concentrations of MT-1 and MT-2 (hereafter MT-1/2) were observed by ELISA. We examined the role of MT-1/2 in ocular neovascularization by using both an oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model and a laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV) model. We investigated the localization of MT-1/2 in retina. Furthermore, we investigated the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α and VEGF in OIR. In vitro, we investigated the degradation of HIF-1α.
The MT-1/2 were significantly elevated in proliferative diabetic retinopathy patients. Ocular neovascularization, which was induced in both the OIR model and the CNV model, was decreased in MT-1/2 knockout (KO) mice. We confirmed that although MT-1/2 was expressed throughout the murine retina, its expression levels were highest in the endothelial cells. Further, OIR enhanced MT-1/2 expression in the retina. Interestingly, in the OIR model, both HIF-1α and VEGF levels were significantly decreased in the retina of MT-1/2 KO mice. In addition, we found that knockdown of MT-1/2 accelerated ubiquitination of HIF-1α.
These results indicate that MT-1/2 are involved in retinal and choroidal neovascularization, and that MT-1/2 might be a new therapeutic target in diseases in which ocular angiogenesis is implicated.
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