Effects of modified LDL and HDL on retinal pigment epithelial cells: a role in diabetic retinopathy?

M Du, M Wu, D Fu, S Yang, J Chen, K Wilson, T J Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: Blood–retina barrier leakage in diabetes results in extravasation of plasma lipoproteins. Intra-retinal modified LDLs have been implicated in diabetic retinopathy (DR), but their effects on retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and the added effects of extravasated modified HDLs are unknown.

Methods: In human retinas from individuals with and without diabetes and DR, immunohistochemistry was used to detect ApoB, ApoA1 and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers. In cell culture, human RPE cells were treated with native LDL (N-LDL) or heavily-oxidised glycated LDL (HOG-LDL) with or without pretreatment with native HDL (N-HDL) or heavilyoxidised glycated HDL (HOG-HDL). Cell viability, oxidative stress, ER stress, apoptosis and autophagy were assessed by Cell Counting Kit-8 assay, dichlorofluorescein assay, western blotting, immunofluorescence and TUNEL assay. In separate
experiments, RPE cells were treated with lipid oxidation products, 7-ketocholesterol (7-KC, 5–40 µmol/l) or 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE, 5–80 µmol/l), with or without pretreatment with N-HDL or HOG-HDL.

Results: ApoB, ApoA1 staining and RPE ER stress were increased in the presence of DR. HOG-LDL but not N-LDL significantly decreased RPE cell viability and increased reactive oxygen species generation, ER stress, apoptosis and autophagy. Similarly, 4-HNE and 7-KC decreased viability and induced ER stress. Pretreatment with N-HDL mitigated these effects, whereas HOG-HDL was less effective by most, but not all, measures.

Conclusions/interpretation: In DR, extravascular modified LDL may promote RPE injury through oxidative stress, ER stress, autophagy and apoptosis. N-HDL has protective effects, but HOG-HDL is less effective. Extravasation and modification of HDL may modulate the injurious effects of extravasated modified LDL on the retinal pigment epithelium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2318-2328
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Early online date11 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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