Inhibition of Cx43 gap junction uncoupling prevents high glucose-induced apoptosis and reduces excess cell monolayer permeability in retinal vascular endothelial cells

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The aim of this study was to investigate whether inhibition of connexin 43 gap junction-uncoupling is sufficient to prevent retinal vascular cell loss under high glucose condition and reduce cell monolayer permeability. Rat retinal endothelial cells were grown for 3, 5, and 7 days in normal (5 mM) or high glucose (30 mM) medium; in parallel, cells grown in high glucose medium were exposed for 3, 5, and 7 days to 100 nM danegaptide, which stabilizes connexin 43-mediated cell coupling. Additionally, cells grown in normal medium were treated with a connexin 43 blocker as a negative control. To determine gap junction intercellular communication, scrape load dye transfer assay was performed at the three time points. Cells were assessed for apoptosis and cell monolayer permeability by differential dye staining and in vitro permeability assays, respectively. Cells treated with danegaptide preserved gap junction intercellular communication, decreased cell death, and reduced cell monolayer permeability. Scrape load dye transfer assay indicated that cells exposed to danegaptide for 3, 5, and 7 days under high glucose condition maintained gap junction intercellular communication. Importantly, danegaptide significantly prevented high glucose-induced apoptosis at all three time points, and inhibited cell monolayer permeability by day 5. Cells exposed to a connexin 43 blocker, which decreased cell coupling, showed excess apoptosis and cell monolayer permeability. These findings suggest that prevention of high glucose-induced compromised cell-cell coupling may be a useful strategy for inhibiting apoptosis and excess vascular permeability associated with diabetic retinopathy.HighlightsDanegaptide can maintain cell coupling under high glucose-induced stress.Blocking connexin 43 promotes retinal vascular cell loss and leakage.Maintenance of GJIC protects against apoptosis and permeability associated with DR.

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