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Exp Cell Res. 2013 Apr 15;319(7):1001-12. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.01.012. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Critical role of TXNIP in oxidative stress, DNA damage and retinal pericyte apoptosis under high glucose: implications for diabetic retinopathy.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, USA.


Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is characterized by early loss of retinal capillary pericytes and microvascular dysfunction. We recently showed that pro-oxidative stress and pro-apoptotic thioredoxin interacting protein (TXNIP) is significantly up-regulated in rat retinas in experimental diabetes and mediates inflammation and apoptosis. Therefore, we hypothesize here that TXNIP up-regulation in pericyte plays a causative role in oxidative stress and apoptosis under sustained high glucose exposure in culture. We maintained a rat retinal capillary pericyte cell line (TR-rPCT1) for 5 days under low glucose (LG, 5.5mM) or high glucose (HG, 25 mM) with or without anti-oxidant N-acetylcysteine (5mM, NAC), Azaseine (2 μM, AzaS), an inhibitor of TXNIP, and TXNIP siRNA (siTXNIP3, 20 nM). The results show that HG increases TXNIP expression in TR-rPCT1, which correlates positively with ROS generation, protein S-nitrosylation, and pro-apoptotic caspase-3 activation. Furthermore, pericyte apoptosis is demonstrated by DNA fragmentation (alkaline comet assay) and a reduction in MTT survival assay. Treatment of TR-rPCT1 with NAC or an inhibition of TXNIP by AzaS or siTXNIP3 each reduces HG-induced ROS, caspase-3 activation and DNA damage demonstrating that TXNIP up-regulation under chronic hyperglycemia is critically involved in cellular oxidative stress, DNA damage and retinal pericyte apoptosis. Thus, TXNIP represents a novel gene and drug target to prevent pericyte loss and progression of DR.

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