Molecules. 2023 Aug 9;28(16):5961. doi: 10.3390/molecules28165961.
Diabetic retinopathy (DR), a complication of diabetes mellitus (DM), can cause severe visual loss. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) plays a crucial role in retinal physiology but is vulnerable to oxidative damage. We investigated the protective effects of selenium (Se) on retinal pigment epithelium (ARPE-19) and primary human retinal microvascular endothelial (ACBRI 181) cells against high glucose (HG)-induced oxidative stress and apoptotic cascade. To achieve this objective, we utilized varying concentrations of D-glucose (ranging from 5 to 80 mM) to induce the HG model. HG-induced oxidative stress in ARPE-19 and ACBRI 181 cells and the apoptotic cascade were evaluated by determining Ca2+ overload, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, caspase-3/-9 activation, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation (LP), glutathione (GSH), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and apoptosis levels. A cell viability assay utilizing MTT was conducted to ascertain the optimal concentration of Se to be employed. The quantification of MTT, ROS, VEGF levels, and caspase-3 and -9 activation was accomplished using a plate reader. To quantitatively assess LP and GSH levels, GSH-Px activities were utilized by spectrophotometer and apoptosis, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, and the release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores were evaluated by spectrofluorometer. Our investigation revealed a significant augmentation in oxidative stress induced by HG, leading to cellular damage through modulation of mitochondrial membrane potential, ROS levels, and intracellular Ca2+ release. Incubation with Se resulted in a notable reduction in ROS production induced by HG, as well as a reduction in apoptosis and the activation of caspase-3 and -9. Additionally, Se incubation led to decreased levels of VEGF and LP while concurrently increasing levels of GSH and GSH-Px. The findings from this study strongly suggest that Se exerts a protective effect on ARPE-19 and ACBRI 181 cells against HG-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis. This protective mechanism is partially mediated through the intracellular Ca2+ signaling pathway.