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Andrea P. Cabrera, Arun Bhaskaran, Jun Xu, Xiao Yang, Harry A. Scott, Umar Mohideen, Kaustabh Ghosh; Senescence Increases Choroidal Endothelial Stiffness and Susceptibility to Complement Injury: Implications for Choriocapillaris Loss in AMD. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(14):5910-5918. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-19727.
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) commonly causes blindness in the elderly. Yet, it is untreatable in the large fraction of all AMD patients that develop the early dry form. Dry AMD is marked by the deposition of membrane attack complex (MAC) on choriocapillaris (CC), which is implicated in CC degeneration and subsequent atrophy of overlying retinal pigment epithelium. Since MAC is also found on the CC of young eyes, here we investigated whether and how aging increases choroidal endothelial susceptibility to MAC injury.
Monkey chorioretinal endothelial cells (ECs, RF/6A) were cultured to high passages (>P60) to achieve replicative senescence. We treated ECs with complement-competent human serum to promote MAC deposition and injury, which were assessed by flow cytometry and trypan blue exclusion assay, respectively. Stiffness of EC was measured by atomic force microscopy indentation while Rho GTPase activity was quantified by Rho G-LISA assay.
Our findings reveal that senescent ECs are significantly stiffer than their normal counterparts, which correlates with higher cytoskeletal Rho activity in these cells and their greater susceptibility to complement (MAC) injury. Importantly, inhibition of Rho activity in senescent ECs significantly reduced cell stiffness and MAC-induced lysis.
By revealing an important role of senescence-associated choroidal EC stiffening in complement injury, these findings implicate CC stiffening as an important determinant of age-related CC atrophy seen in dry AMD. Future studies are needed to validate these findings in appropriate animal models so new therapeutic targets can be identified for treatment of dry AMD.
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