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Light induces NLRP3 inflammasome activation in retinal pigment epithelial cells via lipofuscin-mediated photooxidative damage.

Brandstetter C, et al. J Mol Med (Berl). 2015.


Photooxidative damage and chronic innate immune activation have been implicated in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) dysfunction, a process that underlies blinding diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). To identify a potential molecular link between these mechanisms, we investigated whether lipofuscin-mediated phototoxicity activates the NLRP3 inflammasome in RPE cells in vitro. We found that blue light irradiation (dominant wavelength 448 nm, irradiance 0.8 mW/cm(2), duration 6 h) of lipofuscin-loaded primary human RPE cells and ARPE-19 cells induced photooxidative damage, lysosomal membrane permeabilization (79.5 % of cells vs. 3.8 % in nonirradiated controls), and cytosolic leakage of lysosomal enzymes. This resulted in activation of the inflammasome with activation of caspase-1 and secretion of interleukin-1β (14.6 vs. 0.9 pg/ml in nonirradiated controls) and interleukin-18 (87.7 vs. 0.2 pg/ml in nonirradiated controls). Interleukin secretion was dependent on the activity of NLRP3, caspase-1, and lysosomal proteases cathepsin B and L. These results demonstrate that accumulation of lipofuscin-like material in vitro renders RPE cells susceptible to phototoxic destabilization of lysosomes, resulting in NLRP3 inflammasome activation and secretion of inflammatory cytokines. This new mechanism of inflammasome activation links photooxidative damage and innate immune activation in RPE pathology and may provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention in retinal diseases such as AMD.

KEY MESSAGE: • Visible light irradiation of lipofuscin-loaded RPE cells activates inflammasome. • Inflammasome activation results from lysosomal permeabilization and enzyme leakage. • Inflammasome activation induces secretion of inflammatory cytokines by RPE cells. • Photooxidative damage by visible light as new mechanism of inflammasome activation. • Novel link between hallmark pathogenetic features of retinal degenerative diseases.


25783493 [Indexed for MEDLINE]



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