Purpose: We studied whether the accumulation of advanced lipoxidation end-products (ALEs) in the diabetic retina is linked to the impairment of lipid aldehyde detoxification mechanisms.
Methods: Retinas were collected from nondiabetic and diabetic rats and processed for conventional and quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR), Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity assays. The effect of the ALDH1a1 inhibitor, NCT-501, on ALE accumulation and cell viability in cultured Müller glia also was investigated.
Results: The rat retina expressed a range of lipid aldehyde detoxifying ALDH and aldo-keto reductase (AKR) genes. In diabetes, mRNA levels were reduced for 5 of 9 transcripts tested. These findings contrasted with those in the lens and cornea where many of these enzymes were upregulated. We have reported previously accumulation of the acrolein (ACR)-derived ALE, FDP-lysine, in retinal Müller glia during diabetes. In the present study, we show that the main ACR-detoxifying ALDH and AKR genes expressed in the retina, namely, ALDH1a1, ALDH2, and AKR1b1, are principally localized to Müller glia. Diabetes-induced FDP-lysine accumulation in Müller glia was associated with a reduction in ALDH1a1 mRNA and protein expression in whole retina and a decrease in ALDH1a1-immunoreactivity specifically within these cells. No such changes were detected for ALDH2 or AKR1b1. Activity of ALDH was suppressed in the diabetic retina and blockade of ALDH1a1 in cultured Müller glia triggered FDP-lysine accumulation and reduced cell viability.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that downregulation of ALDH and AKR enzymes, particularly ALDH1a1, may contribute ALE accumulation in the diabetic retina.