Thioredoxin interacting protein is a novel mediator of retinal inflammation and neurotoxicity

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSEUp-regulation of thioredoxin interacting protein (TXNIP), an endogenous inhibitor of thioredoxin (Trx), compromises cellular antioxidant and anti-apoptotic defences and stimulates pro-inflammatory cytokines expression, implying a role for TXNIP in apoptosis. Here we have examined the causal role of TXNIP expression in mediating retinal neurotoxicity and assessed the neuroprotective actions of verapamil, a calcium channel blocker and an inhibitor of TXNIP expression.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHRetinal neurotoxicity was induced by intravitreal injection of NMDA in Sprague–Dawley rats, which received verapamil (10 mg·kg−1, p.o.) or vehicle. Neurotoxicity was examined by terminal dUTP nick-end labelling assay and ganglion cell count. Expression of TXNIP, apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK-1), NF-κB, p38 MAPK, JNK, cleaved poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP), caspase-3, nitrotyrosine and 4-hydroxy-nonenal were examined by Western and slot-blot analysis. Release of TNF-α and IL-1β was examined by ELISA.KEY RESULTSNMDA injection enhanced TXNIP expression, decreased Trx activity, causing increased oxidative stress, glial activation and release of TNF-α and IL-1β. Enhanced TXNIP expression disrupted Trx/ASK-1 inhibitory complex leading to release of ASK-1 and activation of the pro-apoptotic p38 MAPK/JNK pathway, as indicated by cleaved PARP and caspase-3 expression. Treatment with verapamil blocked these effects.CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONSElevated TXNIP expression contributed to retinal neurotoxicity by three different mechanisms, inducing release of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α and IL-1β, altering antioxidant status and disrupting the Trx-ASK-1 inhibitory complex leading to activation of the p38 MAPK/JNK apoptotic pathway. Targeting TXNIP expression is a potential therapeutic target for retinal neurodegenerative disease.

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