Hyperoxia Depletes (6R)-5,6,7,8-Tetrahydrobiopterin Levels in the Neonatal Retina: Implications for Nitric Oxide Synthase Function in Retinopathy

Kevin S. Edgar, Nuria Matesanz, Tom A. Gardiner, Zvonimir S. Katusic, Denise M. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Retinopathy of prematurity is a sight-threatening complication of premature birth caused by nitrooxidativeinsult to the developing retinal vasculature during therapeutic hyperoxia exposure and laterischemia-induced neovascularization on supplemental oxygen withdrawal. In the vasodegenerativephase, during hyperoxia, defective endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS) produces reactive oxygenand nitrogen free radicals rather than vasoprotective nitric oxide for unclear reasons. More important,NOS critically depends on the availability of the cofactor (6R)-5,6,7,8-tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4).Because BH4 synthesis is controlled enzymatically by GTP cyclohydrolase (GTPCH), we used GTPCHdepletedmice [hyperphenylalanaemia strain Q4 (hph1)] to investigate the impact of hyperoxia on BH4bioavailability and retinal vascular pathology in the neonate. Hyperoxia decreased BH4 in retinas,lungs, and aortas in all experimental groups, resulting in a dose-dependent decrease in NOS activityand, in the wild-type group, elevated NOS-derived superoxide. Retinal dopamine levels were similarlydiminished, consistent with the dependence of tyrosine hydroxylase on BH4. Despite greater depletionof BH4, the hphþ/ and hph1/ groups did not show exacerbated hyperoxia-induced vessel closure,but exhibited greater vascular protection and reduced progression to neovascular disease. This vasoprotectiveeffect was independent of enhanced circulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF),which was reduced by hyperoxia, but Q5 to local ganglion cell layerederived VEGF. A constitutively higherlevel of VEGF expression associated with retinal development protects GTPCH-deficient neonates fromoxygen-induced vascular damage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1769-1782
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number6
Early online date23 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Hyperoxia Depletes (6R)-5,6,7,8-Tetrahydrobiopterin Levels in the Neonatal Retina: Implications for Nitric Oxide Synthase Function in Retinopathy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this