Smoke-exposure causes endoplasmic reticulum stress and lipid accumulation in retinal pigment epithelium through oxidative stress and complement activation [Lipids]

April 7th, 2014 by Kunchithapautham, K., Atkinson, C., Rohrer, B.

Age-related macular degeneration is a complex disease caused by genetic and environmental factors, including genetic variants in complement components and smoking. Smoke exposure leads to oxidative stress, complement activation, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and lipid dysregulation, which have all been proposed to be associated with AMD pathogenesis. Here we examine the effects of smoke exposure on the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Mice were exposed to cigarette smoke or filtered air for 6 months. RPE cells grown as stable monolayers were exposed to 5% cigarette smoke extract (CSE). Effects of smoke were determined by biochemical, molecular and histological measures. Effects of the alternative pathway (AP) of complement and complement C3a anaphylatoxin receptor signaling were analyzed using knockout mice or specific inhibitors. ER stress markers were elevated after smoke exposure in RPE of intact mice, which was eliminated in AP-deficient mice. To examine this relationship further, RPE monolayers were exposed to CSE. Short-term smoke exposure resulted in production and release of complement C3, the generation of C3a, oxidative stress, complement activation on the cell membrane, and ER stress. Long-term exposure to CSE resulted in lipid accumulation, and secretion. All measures were reversed by blocking C3a complement receptor (C3aR), alternative complement pathway signaling, and anti-oxidant therapy. Taken together, our results provide clear evidence that smoke exposure results in oxidative stress and complement activation via the AP, resulting in ER stress-mediated lipid accumulation, and further suggesting that oxidative stress and complement act synergistically in the pathogenesis of AMD.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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