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Redox Biol. 2016 Apr;7:78-87. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2015.11.011. Epub 2015 Nov 29.

Oxidative stress-induced premature senescence dysregulates VEGF and CFH expression in retinal pigment epithelial cells: Implications for Age-related Macular Degeneration.

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Cell and Molecular Medicine, Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad Austral, Pilar B1629AHJ, Argentina.
Fundación Pablo Cassará, Buenos Aires C1440 FFX, Argentina.
Cell and Molecular Medicine, Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad Austral, Pilar B1629AHJ, Argentina. Electronic address:


Oxidative stress has a critical role in the pathogenesis of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a multifactorial disease that includes age, gene variants of complement regulatory proteins and smoking as the main risk factors. Stress-induced premature cellular senescence (SIPS) is postulated to contribute to this condition. In this study, we hypothesized that oxidative damage, promoted by endogenous or exogenous sources, could elicit a senescence response in RPE cells, which would in turn dysregulate the expression of major players in AMD pathogenic mechanisms. We showed that exposure of a human RPE cell line (ARPE-19) to a cigarette smoke concentrate (CSC), not only enhanced Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) levels, but also induced 8-Hydroxydeoxyguanosine-immunoreactive (8-OHdG) DNA lesions and phosphorylated-Histone 2AX-immunoreactive (p-H2AX) nuclear foci. CSC-nuclear damage was followed by premature senescence as shown by positive senescence associated-β-galactosidase (SA-β-Gal) staining, and p16(INK4a) and p21(Waf-Cip1) protein upregulation. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) treatment, a ROS scavenger, decreased senescence markers, thus supporting the role of oxidative damage in CSC-induced senescence activation. ARPE-19 senescent cultures were also established by exposure to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which is an endogenous stress source produced in the retina under photo-oxidation conditions. Senescent cells upregulated the proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8, the main markers of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Most important, we show for the first time that senescent ARPE-19 cells upregulated vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and simultaneously downregulated complement factor H (CFH) expression. Since both phenomena are involved in AMD pathogenesis, our results support the hypothesis that SIPS could be a principal player in the induction and progression of AMD. Moreover, they would also explain the striking association of this disease with cigarette smoking.

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