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Ryo Kubota, David J. Calkins, Susan H. Henry, Robert A. Linsenmeier; Emixustat Reduces Metabolic Demand of Dark Activity in the Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(14):4924-4930. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.19-28194.
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In the dark, photoreceptor outer segments contain high levels of cyclic guanosine 3′-5′ monophosphate (cGMP), which binds to ion channels, holding them open and allowing an influx of cations. Ion pumping activity, which balances cation influx, uses considerable amounts of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and oxygen. Light reduces cation influx and thereby lowers metabolic demand. Blood vessels are compromised in the diabetic retina and may not be able to meet the higher metabolic demand in darkness. Emixustat is a visual cycle modulator (VCM) that reduces chromophore levels and, therefore, may mimic light conditions. We evaluated the effect of emixustat on oxygen consumption and cation influx in dark conditions.
Cation influx was measured in rats using Mn2+-magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). Retinal oxygen profiles were recorded to evaluate oxygen consumption. In the MEMRI protocol, animals were treated with either emixustat or vehicle. In the oxygen protocol, animals were untreated or treated with emixustat.
In vehicle-treated animals, cation channel activity increased in the dark. Emixustat treatment reduced cation channel activity; activity was comparable to vehicle-treated controls in light conditions. In vehicle-treated animals, minimum retinal oxygen tension decreased as the retina recovered from a photobleach, indicating that more oxygen was being consumed. Emixustat treatment prevented the decrease in oxygen pressure after photobleach.
Emixustat reduced the cation influx and retinal oxygen consumption associated with dark conditions. VCMs are a promising potential treatment for ischemic retinal neovascularization, such as that in diabetic retinopathy.
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