Purpose: To investigate the protective roles played by heme oxygenase (HO)-1 and -2 in the rat retina after ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Methods: Retinal ischemia was induced in rats by increasing the intraocular pressure to 110 mmHg for 60 minutes. The expression of HO-1 and -2 in the retina was determined by Western blot, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and immunohistochemistry. To inhibit the upregulation of HO-1, short interfering (si)RNA of HO-1 was injected intravitreally before ischemia and that of green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as the control. Muller cell damage was assessed by counting the number of S-100-positive cells. The number of macrophages invading the retina was determined by counting the number of ED-1-positive cells.
Results: The expression of HO-1 mRNA and protein was upregulated at 6 hours after reperfusion and peaked at 12 to 24 hours, whereas that of HO-2 was not altered. HO-1 immunoreactivities were detected in Muller cells at 24 hours after reperfusion, and HO-2 immunoreactivities were detected in retinal cells. The HO-1 expression in the retina treated with siRNA of HO-1 was reduced at 12 and 24 hours after reperfusion compared with that injected with siRNA of GFP. The number of S-100-positive cells at 24 hours after reperfusion decreased significantly in retinas treated with HO-1 siRNA (P <0.01). The number of macrophages that had infiltrated the retina was increased in retinas pretreated with the siRNA of HO-1 compared with those treated with siRNA of GFP. On day 14 after reperfusion, HO-1 siRNA-treated retinas showed severe retinal injury and destruction of the retinal architecture.
Conclusions: HO-1 promotes the survival of Muller cells after ischemia-reperfusion injury. Because inhibition of the upregulation of HO-1 resulted in an infiltration of inflammatory cells and destruction of the retina, the authors conclude that HO-1 induced in Muller cells plays a protective role in retinal ischemia-reperfusion.