Exp Eye Res. 2023 Aug 2:109609. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2023.109609. Online ahead of print.
Glutaredoxin 2 (Grx2), a mitochondrial glutathione-dependent oxidoreductase, is crucial for maintaining redox homeostasis and cellular functions in the lens. The oxidative stress-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of lens epithelial cells (LECs) is related to posterior capsule opacification. In this study, we investigated the effects of Grx2 on oxidative stress-induced EMT in LECs during posterior capsule opacification. We found that Grx2 expression was substantially decreased during the EMT of LECs and in a mouse model of cataract surgery. Deletion of Grx2 aggravated the generation of reactive oxygen species, including those that are mitochondria-derived, and promoted the proliferation and EMT of the LECs. This was reversed by Grx2 overexpression. In vivo, proteomic liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis showed that integrin-linked kinase (ILK) was significantly upregulated in the lens posterior capsule of a Grx2 knockout (KO) mouse model. Compared with that of the wild-type group, the expression of ILK and EMT markers was increased in the Grx2 KO group which was reversed in the Grx2 knock-in group. Inhibition of ILK partially blocked Grx2 knockdown-induced EMT and prevented the increased phosphorylation of Akt and GSK-3β and the nuclear translocation of β-catenin in the Grx2 KO group. Finally, inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway partially blocked the Grx2 knockdown-induced EMT. In conclusion, we demonstrated that Grx2 protects LECs from oxidative stress-related EMT by regulating the ILK/Akt/GSK-3β axis.