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Chen Chen, Bin Zhang, Junfa Xue, Zongyi Li, Shengqian Dou, Huilin Chen, Qun Wang, Mingli Qu, Huifeng Wang, Yuan Zhang, Luqin Wan, Qingjun Zhou, Lixin Xie; Pathogenic Role of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Diabetic Corneal Endothelial Dysfunction. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(3):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.3.4.
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Progressive corneal edema and endothelial cell loss represent the major corneal complications observed in diabetic patients after intraocular surgery. However, the underlying pathogenesis and potential treatment remain incompletely understood.
We used streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetic mice and db/db type 2 diabetic mice as diabetic animal models. These mice were treated with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress agonist thapsigargin; 60-mmHg intraocular pressure (IOP) with the ER stress antagonist 4-phenylbutyric acid (4-PBA); mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQ1; or reactive oxygen species scavenger N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC). Corneal thickness and endothelial cell density were measured before and after treatment. Human corneal endothelial cells were treated with high glucose with or without 4-PBA. The expression of corneal endothelial- and ER stress–related genes was detected by western blot and immunofluorescence staining. Mitochondrial bioenergetics were measured with an Agilent Seahorse XFp Analyzer.
In diabetic mice, the appearance of ER stress preceded morphological changes in the corneal endothelium. The persistent ER stress directly caused corneal edema and endothelial cell loss in normal mice. Pharmacological inhibition of ER stress was sufficient to mitigate corneal edema and endothelial cell loss in both diabetic mice after high IOP treatment. Mechanistically, inhibiting ER stress ameliorated the hyperglycemia-induced mitochondrial bioenergetic deficits and improved the barrier and pump functional recovery of the corneal endothelium. When compared with NAC, 4-PBA and SkQ1 exhibited better improvement of corneal edema and endothelial cell loss in diabetic mice.
Hyperglycemia-induced ER stress contributes to the dysfunction of diabetic corneal endothelium, and inhibiting ER stress may offer therapeutic potential by improving mitochondrial bioenergetics.
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