Ischemic preconditioning, retinal neuroprotection and histone deacetylase activities

Exp Eye Res. 2016 May:146:269-275. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2016.03.026. Epub 2016 Apr 6.


Increased histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity and the resulting dysregulation of protein acetylation is an integral event in retinal degenerations associated with ischemia and ocular hypertension. This study investigates the role of preconditioning on the process of acetylation in ischemic retinal injury. Rat eyes were unilaterally subjected to retinal injury by 45 min of acute ischemia, and retinal neuroprotection induced by 5 min of an ischemic preconditioning (IPC) event. HDAC activity was evaluated by a fluorometric enzymatic assay with selective isoform inhibitors. Retinal localization of acetylated histone-H3 was determined by immunohistochemistry on retina cross sections. Cleaved caspase-3 level was evaluated by Western blots. Electroretinogram (ERG) analyses were used to assess differences in retinal function seven days following ischemic injury. In control eyes, analysis of HDAC isoforms demonstrated that HDAC1/2 accounted for 28.4 ± 1.6%, HDAC3 for 42.4 ± 1.5% and HDAC6 activity 27.3 ± 3.5% of total activity. Following ischemia, total Class-I HDAC activity increased by 21.2 ± 6.2%, and this increase resulted solely from a rise in HDAC1/2 activity. No change in HDAC3 activity was measured. Activity of Class-II HDACs and HDAC8 was negligible. IPC stimulus prior to ischemic injury also suppressed the rise in Class-I HDAC activity, cleaved caspase-3 levels, and increased acetylated histone-H3 in the retina. In control animals 7 days post ischemia, ERG a- and b-wave amplitudes were significantly reduced by 34.9 ± 3.1% and 42.4 ± 6.3%, respectively. In rats receiving an IPC stimulus, the ischemia-induced decline in ERG a- and b-wave amplitudes was blocked. Although multiple HDACs were detected in the retina, these studies provide evidence that hypoacetylation associated with ischemic injury results from the selective rise in HDAC1/2 activity and that neuroprotection induced by IPC is mediated in part by suppressing HDAC activity.

Keywords: HDAC; Ischemia; Neuroprotection; Preconditioning; Protein acetylation; Retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroretinography
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ischemic Preconditioning*
  • Male
  • Neuroprotection / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Retina / metabolism*


  • Histones
  • Caspase 3
  • Histone Deacetylases