Hyperglycemia in diabetes mellitus causes oxidative stress and pericyte depletion from the microvasculature of the brain thus leading to the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) disruption. The compromised BBB exposes the brain to circulating substances, resulting in neurotoxicity and neuronal cell death. The decline in pericyte numbers in diabetic mouse brain and pericyte apoptosis in high glucose cultures are caused by excess superoxide produced during enhanced respiration (mitochondrial oxidative metabolism of glucose). Superoxide is precursor to all Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which, in turn, cause oxidative stress. The rate of respiration and thus the ROS production is regulated by mitochondrial carbonic anhydrases (mCA) VA and VB, the two isoforms expressed in the mitochondria. Inhibition of both mCA: decreases the oxidative stress and restores the pericyte numbers in diabetic brain; and reduces high glucose-induced respiration, ROS, oxidative stress, and apoptosis in cultured brain pericytes. However, the individual role of the two isoforms has not been established. To investigate the contribution of mCA VA in ROS production and apoptosis, a mCA VA overexpressing brain pericyte cell line was engineered. These cells were exposed to high glucose and analyzed for the changes in ROS and apoptosis. Overexpression of mCA VA significantly increased pericyte ROS and apoptosis. Inhibition of mCA VA with topiramate prevented increases both in glucose-induced ROS and pericyte death. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that mCA VA regulates the rate of pericyte respiration. These findings identify mCA VA as a novel and specific therapeutic target to protect the cerebromicrovascular bed in diabetes.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Brain pericytes; Diabetes mellitus; Mitochondrial CA VA; Topiramate.