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Dongjoon Kim, Sayon Roy; Effects of Diabetes on Mitochondrial Morphology and Its Implications in Diabetic Retinopathy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(10):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.10.10.
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To determine whether high glucose (HG) or diabetes alters mitochondrial morphology and promotes mitochondrial fragmentation in retinal vascular cells and thereby triggers apoptosis associated with diabetic retinopathy.
To assess whether diabetes promotes mitochondrial fragmentation and thereby triggers apoptosis, retinas from nondiabetic and diabetic rats were analyzed using electron microscopy (EM) and in parallel, wild-type, diabetic, and OPA1+/− mice were analyzed for optic atrophy gene 1 (OPA1) and cytochrome c levels using Western blot (WB) analysis. To assess the relationship between mitochondrial fragmentation and OPA1 levels, rat retinal endothelial cells (RRECs) were grown in normal (N; 5 mmol/L) medium, HG (30 mmol/L) medium, or in N medium transfected with OPA1 siRNA for seven days. Cells were examined for OPA1 expression and cytochrome c release by WB. In parallel, cells were stained with MitoTracker Red and assessed for mitochondrial fragmentation in live cells using confocal microscopy.
EM images revealed significant mitochondrial fragmentation in vascular cells of retinal capillaries of diabetic rats compared with that of nondiabetic rats. WB analysis showed significant OPA1 downregulation concomitant with increased levels of proapoptotic cytochrome c levels in cells grown in HG and in cells transfected with OPA1 siRNA alone. Similarly, OPA1 level was significantly reduced in diabetic retinas compared with that of nondiabetic retinas. Interestingly, OPA1+/− animals exhibited elevated cytochrome c release similar to those of diabetic mice.
Findings indicate that diabetes promotes mitochondrial fragmentation in retinal vascular cells, which are driven, at least in part, by decreased OPA1 levels leading to apoptosis in diabetic retinopathy.
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