Chronic inflammation is a key pathogenic process in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Amyloid-beta (Aβ) is a constituent of AMD drusen and promotes the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome which facilitates the production of cytokines. We investigated the role of transcription factor NF-κB in the activation of inflammasome in the RPE and the effect of vinpocetine, a dietary supplement with inhibitory effect on NF-κΒ. ARPE19/NF-κB-luciferase reporter cells treated with Aβ demonstrated enhanced NF-κB activation that was significantly suppressed by vinpocetine. Intraperitoneal injection of vinpocetine (15 mg/kg) inhibited NF-κB nuclear translocation and reduced the expression and activation of NLRP3, caspase-1, IL-1β, IL-18, and TNF-α in the RPE of adult rats that received intraocular Αβ, as measured by retinal immunohistochemistry and Western blot. Cytokine level in the vitreous was assayed using multiplex suspension arrays and revealed significantly lower concentration of MIP-3α, IL-6, IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, and TNF-α in vinpocetine treated animals. These results suggest that the NF-κB pathway is activated by Aβ in the RPE and signals the priming of NLRP3 inflammasome and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines including the inflammasome substrates IL-1β and IL-18. NF-κB inhibition may be an effective approach to stem the chronic inflammatory milieu that underlies the development of AMD. Vinpocetine is a potentially useful anti-inflammatory agent that is well-tolerated in long term use.
Keywords: AMD; NF-κB; RPE; amyloid-β; cytokine; inflammasome; vinpocetine.
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