Silencing of galectin-1 inhibits retinal neovascularization and ameliorates retinal hypoxia in a murine model of oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy

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Abstract

Aberrant neovascularization is a consequence of inappropriate angiogenic signaling and contributes to several diseases. Although many regulators of pathogenic angiogenesis have been identified, the understanding of this process remains incomplete. Galectin-1 (Gal-1), as a homodimeric protein with a single carbohydrate-recognition domain, is implicated in several pathologic processes, including angiogenesis; however, its involvement in retinal neovascularization (RNV) remains unknown. Here, we investigated the anti-angiogenic effect of silencing Gal-1 through intravitreal injection in a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR). Our results revealed that Gal-1 was overexpressed and closely related to retinal neo-vessels in OIR retinas. After silencing Gal-1 via intravitreal injection of adenoviral-Gal-1-RNA interference (Ad-Gal-1-RNAi), RNV and retinal hypoxia were significantly attenuated, indicating the anti-angiogenic effect of Gal-1 inhibition. Western blot analysis and real-time polymerase chain reaction indicated that the expression of both neuropilin-1 (Nrp-1) and B cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) decreased after intravitreal injection of Ad-Gal-1-RNAi, implying the possible involvement of Nrp-1 and Bcl-2 in Gal-1-related angiogenic processes. Additionally, whole-mount fluorescence and hematoxylin and eosin staining showed that intravitreal injection of Ad-Gal-1-RNAi did not significantly disrupt the retinal vasculature and neuronal structure of room air mice. Moreover, Ad-Gal-1-RNAi transfer promoted retinal vascular sprouting and increased retinal vascular perfusion, likely through decreased phosphorylation of myosin phosphatase target protein-1. Collectively, our results demonstrated that Gal-1 functions as an important regulator in RNV and offers a promising strategy for the treatment of RNV diseases, such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity.

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