Physiopathology of retinal degeneration in rd1 mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa: TGF-Β1, proteinases and oxidative stress mechanisms

Sat pal Ahuja, Poonam Ahuja-Jensen, Romeo A. Caffé, Magnus Abrahamson, Per Ekström, Theo Van Veen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The rd1 (retinal degeneration) mouse retina shows degeneration homologous to a form of retinitis pigmentosa with a rapid loss of rod photoreceptors and deficiency of retinal blood vessels. Due to Pde6brd1 gene mutation, β subunit of phosphodiesterase (PDE) of rd1 retina has an inactive PDE which elevates cGMP and Ca2+ ions level. In vitro retinal explants provide a system close to the in vivo situation, so both approaches were used to compare the status of oxidative stress, transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), sialylation, galactosylation of proteoglycans, and different proteinases-endogenous inhibitors systems participating in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling/degeneration and programmed cell death (PCD)/apoptosis in wt and rd1 mouse retinas. Proteins and desialylated sulfated glucosaminoglycan parts of proteoglycans in ECM of rd1 retina were, respectively, decreased and increased due to enhanced activities of proteinases. Desialylation increases the susceptibility of cells to phoagocytosis/apoptosis, decreased neurogenesis and faulty guidance cues for synaptogenesis. In vivo activities of total proteinases, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and cathepsin B were increased in rd1 retina on postnatal day 14 (PN14), -21 and -28, due to relatively lower levels of tissue inhibitor of MMPs (TIMP-1) and cystatin C, respectively. This corresponded with increased in vitro secretion of these proteinases by rd1 retina. Cells including end-feet of Mueller cells in degenerating rd1 retina showed intense immunolabeling for MMP-9, MMP-2/TIMP-1, TIMP-2 and cathepsin B/cystatin C, and proteinases pool was increased by Mueller cells. Intense immunolabeling of ganglion cell (RGC) layer for cathepsin B and of inner-plexiform layer of both PN2/PN7 rd1 and wt retinas indicated importance of cathepsin B in synaptogenesis and PCD of RGC. Increased levels of TGF-β1 in vitro transiently increased the secretion of MMPs and cathepsins activities by wt explants which activate TGF-β1 and remodel the ECM for angiogenesis and ontogenetic PCD. Whereas, lower level of TGF-β1 and persistently higher activities of MMPs and cathepsins in rd1 retinas and conditioned medium, suggested that proteinases degraded TGF-β1 and ECM and caused retinal degeneration. Lower activities of glutathione-S-transferase and glutathione-peroxidase in rd1 retina contribute to oxidative stress which damages membranes and increased the expression, release/secretion of proteinases relative to their endogenous inhibitors. Participation of oxidative stress in rd1 retinal degeneration was further confirmed from the partial protection of rd1 photoreceptors by in vitro and/or in vivo supplementation with glutathione-S-transferase or a combination of antioxidants namely lutein, zeaxanthin, α-lipoic acid and reduced-L-glutathione. Treatment with combination(s) of broad spectrum proteinase inhibitor(s) and antioxidants needs investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRetinal Degeneration: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
EditorsR. B. Catlin
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages41
ISBN (Print)978-160741007-2
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Feb

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Cathepsins/cystatin C
  • In vivo/in vitro TGF-β1
  • MMPs/TIMPs
  • Proteoglycan levels
  • Rd1 mouse retina/retinal explants
  • Sialylation of proteoglycans


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