REG1A protects retinal photoreceptors from blue light damage

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2023 Sep;1527(1):60-74. doi: 10.1111/nyas.15045. Epub 2023 Aug 2.


With the increased use of artificial light and the prolonged use of optoelectronic products, light damage (LD) to the human retina has been identified as a global vision-threatening problem. While there is evidence of a significant correlation between light-induced retinal damage and age-related vision impairment in age-related macular degeneration, it is unclear how light-induced retinal degeneration manifests itself and whether there are agents capable of preventing the development of LD in the retina. This study investigated a mechanism by which blue light leads to photoreceptor death. By observing blue light exposure in retinal organoids and photoreceptor cells, we concluded that there could be significant apoptosis of the photoreceptors. We demonstrate that regenerating islet-derived 1 alpha (REG1A) prevents photoreceptors from undergoing this LD-induced apoptosis by increasing expression of the anti-apoptotic gene Bcl2 and downregulating expression of the pro-apoptotic gene Bax, resulting in reduced mitochondrial damage and improved aerobic capacity in photoreceptor cells. For the first time, REG1A has been shown to restore mitochondrial function and cell apoptosis after LD-induced damage, suggesting its potential application in the prevention and treatment of retinal vision loss.

Keywords: REG1A; blue light damage; mitochondria; photoreceptor cell; retinal organoid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Lithostathine
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / metabolism
  • Retina* / metabolism
  • Retinal Degeneration* / metabolism
  • Retinal Degeneration* / prevention & control


  • REG1A protein, human
  • Lithostathine