Potential mechanisms behind the antioxidant actions of prolactin in the retina
Causes for age-related retinal diseases are numerous and complex, and they are intertwined with the natural vision decline that accompanies aging. The elucidation of endogenous mechanisms that help maintain retinal function under conditions that are threatening for the eye and happen during natural aging is therefore critical in developing new prevention and therapeutic strategies against age-related retinal degeneration. Our lab recently reported that the hormone of lactation, prolactin, helps the retinal pigment epithelium to survive via antioxidant actions that result in the inhibition of sirtuin2-dependent cell death (EbioMedicine issue of May). The mechanism behind the antioxidant activity of prolactin remains elusive. The main purposes of my commentary are to discuss mechanisms that could explain this effect in the context of previously identified defense mechanisms against oxidative stress and focus particularly on the potential regulation of reduced glutathione levels by prolactin. I also briefly comment on how our study contributes to cell biology, which as the foundational science for understanding neurodegeneration, may accelerate progress in disease prevention and cures.