Oxidative damage is a potential cause of cone cell death in retinitis pigmentosa.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a prevalent cause of blindness caused by a large number of different mutations in many different genes. The mutations result in rod photoreceptor cell death, but it is unknown why cones die. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that cones die from oxidative damage by performing immunohistochemical staining for biomarkers of oxidative damage in a transgenic pig model of RP. The presence of acrolein- and 4-hydroxynonenal-adducts on proteins is a specific indicator that lipid peroxidation has occurred, and there was strong immunofluorescent staining for both in cone inner segments (IS) of two 10-month-old transgenic pigs in which almost all rods had died, compared to faint staining in two 10-month-old control pig retinas. In 22- and 24-month-old transgenic pigs in which all rods and many cones had died, staining was strong in cone axons and some cell bodies as well as IS indicating progression in oxidative damage between 10 and 22 months. Biomarkers for oxidative damage to proteins and DNA also showed progressive oxidative damage to those macromolecules in cones during the course of RP. These data support the hypothesis that the death of rods results in decreased oxygen consumption and hyperoxia in the outer retina resulting in gradual cone cell death from oxidative damage. This hypothesis has important therapeutic implications and deserves rapid evaluation.
Shen, J; Yang, X; Dong, A; Petters, RM; Peng, Y-W; Wong, F; Campochiaro, PA
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