- PHARMACEUTICAL SOC JAPAN
The initial clinical stage of diabetic retinopathy (DR) is characterized by the development of intraretinal microvascular abnormalities. The increased formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is thought to be a key event in the pathogenesis of DR. Extracellular-superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD) is an anti-inflammatory enzyme that is distributed mainly in vascular cells and protects cells from ROS by scavenging superoxide anion. Treatment with cobalt chloride (CoCl2) decreased the expression of EC-SOD but not other SOD isozymes in pericytes accompanied with an increase of intracellular ROS production. Pre-treatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) significantly suppressed the ROS production and down-regulation of EC-SOD. We observed the activation of caspase-3 and DNA fragmentation as signs of apoptotic process by CoCl2 treatment. In addition, these phenomena were significantly inhibited by pre-treatment with NAC. EC-SOD enhancer 4-phenyl butyric acid also suppressed the caspase-3 activation. It is known that the presence of a high level of EC-SOD throughout the vessel walls might have an important protective role against superoxide in the vascular system. The decrease in EC-SOD expression accompanied with elevation of ROS level in pericytes under hypoxia might induce and/or promote the ROS-triggered apoptosis of pericytes and the development of pathogenesis in DR.
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