Autophagic Upregulation Is Cytoprotective in Ischemia/Reperfusion-Injured Retina and Retinal Progenitor Cells

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 6;22(16):8446. doi: 10.3390/ijms22168446.


The cytoprotective versus cytotoxic role of macroautophagy in ocular ischemia/reperfusion injuries remains controversial and its effects under hyperglycemia are unclear. We investigated the involvement of autophagy in in vitro and in vivo normoglycemic and hyperglycemic models of retinal ischemia/reperfusion injury. Retinal ischemia (2 h) and reperfusion (2 or 22 h) was induced in wild-type and type I diabetic Ins2Akita/+ mice using a middle cerebral artery occlusion model. R28 retinal precursor cells were subjected to CoCl2-induced hypoxia with or without autophagic inhibitor NH4Cl. Autophagic regulation during ischemia/reperfusion was assessed through immunohistochemical detection and Western blotting of microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3) and lysosomal associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP1). Effect of autophagic inhibition on cell viability and morphology under hypoxic conditions was also evaluated. Upregulation of autophagic markers in the inner retinae was seen after two hours reperfusion, with tapering of the response following 22 h of reperfusion in vivo. LC3-II turnover assays confirmed an increase in autophagic flux in our hypoxic in vitro model. Pharmacological autophagic inhibition under hypoxic conditions decreased cell survival and induced structural changes not demonstrated with autophagic inhibition alone. Yet no statistically significant different autophagic responses in ischemia/reperfusion injuries were seen between the two glycemic states.

Keywords: CoCl2; LAMP1; LC3; NH4Cl; R28 cells; autophagy inhibitors; hypoxia; macroautophagy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Cell Survival
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology*
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / pathology*