Background: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), characterized by the degeneration of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptors, is the leading cause of irreversible vision impairment among the elderly. RPE senescence is an important contributor to AMD and has become a potential target for AMD therapy. HTRA1 is one of the most significant susceptibility genes in AMD, however, the correlation between HTRA1 and RPE senescence hasn't been investigated in the pathogenesis of AMD.
Methods: Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to detect HTRA1 expression in WT and transgenic mice overexpressing human HTRA1 (hHTRA1-Tg mice). RT-qPCR was used to detect the SASP in hHTRA1-Tg mice and ARPE-19 cells infected with HTRA1. TEM, SA-β-gal was used to detect the mitochondria and senescence in RPE. Retinal degeneration of mice was investigated by fundus photography, FFA, SD-OCT and ERG. The RNA-Seq dataset of ARPE-19 cells treated with adv-HTRA1 versus adv-NC were analyzed. Mitochondrial respiration and glycolytic capacity in ARPE-19 cells were measured using OCR and ECAR. Hypoxia of ARPE-19 cells was detected using EF5 Hypoxia Detection Kit. KC7F2 was used to reduce the HIF1α expression both in vitro and in vivo.
Results: In our study, we found that RPE senescence was facilitated in hHTRA1-Tg mice. And hHTRA1-Tg mice became more susceptible to NaIO3 in the development of oxidative stress-induced retinal degeneration. Similarly, overexpression of HTRA1 in ARPE-19 cells accelerated cellular senescence. Our RNA-seq revealed an overlap between HTRA1-induced differentially expressed genes associated with aging and those involved in mitochondrial function and hypoxia response in ARPE-19 cells. HTRA1 overexpression in ARPE-19 cells impaired mitochondrial function and augmented glycolytic capacity. Importantly, upregulation of HTRA1 remarkably activated HIF-1 signaling, shown as promoting HIF1α expression which mainly located in the nucleus. HIF1α translation inhibitor KC7F2 significantly prevented HTRA1-induced cellular senescence in ARPE-19 cells, as well as improved the visual function in hHTRA1-Tg mice treated with NaIO3.
Conclusions: Our study showed elevated HTRA1 contributes to the pathogenesis of AMD by promoting cellular senescence in RPE through damaging mitochondrial function and activating HIF-1 signaling. It also pointed out that inhibition of HIF-1 signaling might serve as a potential therapeutic strategy for AMD. Video Abstract.
Keywords: Age-related macular degeneration; Cell senescence; HIF1α; HTRA1; Hypoxia; Retinal pigment epithelium.
© 2023. The Author(s).