Purpose: Accumulation of oxidized phospholipids/lipoproteins with age is suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of AMD. We investigated the effect of oxidized LDL (ox-LDL) on human RPE cells.
Methods: Primary human fetal RPE (hf-RPE) and ARPE-19 cells were treated with different doses of LDL or ox-LDL. Assessment of cell death was measured by lactate dehydrogenase release into the conditioned media. Barrier function of RPE was assayed by measuring transepithelial resistance. Lysosomal accumulation of ox-LDL was determined by immunostaining. Expression of CD36 was determined by RT-PCR; protein blot and function was examined by receptor blocking. NLRP3 inflammasome activation was assessed by RT-PCR, protein blot, caspase-1 fluorescent probe assay, and inhibitor assays.
Results: Treatment with ox-LDL, but not LDL, for 48 hours caused significant increase in hf-RPE and ARPE-19 (P < 0.001) cell death. Oxidized LDL treatment of hf-RPE cells resulted in a significant decrease in transepithelial resistance (P < 0.001 at 24 hours and P < 0.01 at 48 hours) relative to LDL-treated and control cells. Internalized ox-LDL was targeted to RPE lysosomes. Uptake of ox-LDL but not LDL significantly increased CD36 protein and mRNA levels by more than 2-fold. Reverse transcription PCR, protein blot, and caspase-1 fluorescent probe assay revealed that ox-LDL treatment induced NLRP3 inflammasome when compared with LDL treatment and control. Inhibition of NLRP3 activation using 10 μM isoliquiritigenin significantly (P < 0.001) inhibited ox-LDL induced cytotoxicity.
Conclusions: These data are consistent with the concept that ox-LDL play a role in the pathogenesis of AMD by NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Suppression of NLRP3 inflammasome activation could attenuate RPE degeneration and AMD progression.