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Xin Zuo, Hao Zeng, Bowen Wang, Xue Yang, Dalian He, Li Wang, Hong Ouyang, Jin Yuan; AKR1C1 Protects Corneal Epithelial Cells Against Oxidative Stress-Mediated Ferroptosis in Dry Eye. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(10):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.10.3.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To evaluate the precise mode of cell death and to investigate the molecular mechanism underlying the initiation of inflammation in dry eye disease (DED).
C57BL/6 mice were injected with scopolamine subcutaneously and exposed to desiccating stress to establish a DED mouse model. An immortalized human corneal epithelial cell line (HCEC) was cultured under hyperosmolarity (500 mOsM). Protein expressions were measured using western blot assay and immunofluorescence staining. mRNA expression was analyzed by RNA-sequencing and quantitative RT-PCR. Transmission electron microscopy was used to observe the intracellular ultrastructure. Intracellular Fe2+ was detected by a FerroOrange fluorescent probe. Flow cytometry was used to evaluate the cellular reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation.
Marked changes in ferroptosis-related markers expression, intracellular iron accumulation, and lipid peroxidation were observed in corneal epithelial cells of DED models. When excessive oxidative stress was suppressed, ferroptosis induced by hyperosmolarity in HCECs was restrained, as indicated by decreased iron content and lipid peroxidation levels. Moreover, AKR1C1 was upregulated by the activation of NRF2 in HCECs under hyperosmolarity. When AKR1C1 was knocked down, cell viability was decreased, accompanied by increased lipid peroxidation, whereas overexpression of AKR1C1 produced the opposite results. It was observed consistently that corneal defects and the inflammatory response were promoted after inhibition of AKR1C1 in vivo.
Excessive oxidative stress-induced ferroptosis participates in DED pathogenesis. The expression of AKR1C1 is triggered by NRF2 to decrease ferroptosis-induced cell damage and inflammation in HCECs. These findings may provide potential makers targeting ferroptosis and AKR1C1 for DED therapy.
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