Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Express Antimicrobial Peptide Lysozyme - A Novel Mechanism of Innate Immune Defense of the Blood-Retina Barrier

Jian Liu, Caijiao Yi, Wei Ming, Miao Tang, Xiao Tang, Chang Luo, Bo Lei, Mei Chen, Heping Xu

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Abstract

Purpose: For this study we aimed to understand if retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells express antimicrobial peptide lysozyme as a mechanism to protect the neuroretina from blood-borne pathogens.

Methods: The expression of lysozyme in human and mouse RPE cells was examined by RT-PCR or immune (cyto)histochemistry in cell cultures or retinal sections. RPE cultures were treated with different concentrations of Pam3CSK4, lipopolysaccharides (LPS), staphylococcus aureus-derived peptidoglycan (PGN-SA), Poly(I:C), and Poly(dA:dT). The mRNA expression of lysozyme was examined by qPCR and protein expression by ELISA. Poly(I:C) was injected into the subretinal space of C57BL/6J mice and eyes were collected 24 hours later and processed for the evaluation of lysozyme expression by confocal microscopy. Bactericidal activity was measured in ARPE19 cells following LYZ gene deletion using Crispr/Cas9 technology.

Results: The mRNA and protein of lysozyme were detected in mouse and human RPE cells under normal conditions, although the expression levels were lower than mouse microglia BV2 or human monocytes THP-1 cells, respectively. Immunohistochemistry showed punctate lysozyme expression inside RPE cells. Lysozyme was detected by ELISA in normal RPE lysates, and in live bacteria-treated RPE supernatants. Treatment of RPE cells with Pam3CSK4, LPS, PGN-SA, and Poly(I:C) enhanced lysozyme expression. CRISPR/Cas9 deletion of lysozyme impaired bactericidal activity of ARPE19 cells and reduced their response to LPS and Poly(I:C) stimulation.

Conclusions: RPE cells constitutively express antimicrobial peptide lysozyme and the expression is modulated by pathogenic challenges. RPE cells may protect the neuroretina from blood-borne pathogens by producing antimicrobial peptides, such as lysozyme.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative ophthalmology & visual science
Volume62
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021

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