J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2023 Sep 20. doi: 10.1089/jop.2023.0053. Online ahead of print.
Purpose: This study clarifies the beneficial effects of MG132, a proteasomal inhibitor, on retinal vascular injury mediated by diabetes-induced oxidative stress through nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Methods: Diabetic rats and control animals were randomly assigned to receive MG132 or vehicle for 24 weeks, and human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) were incubated with normal or high glucose with or without MG132. 26S proteasome activity in the rat retinas or cultured HRECs was measured using Suc-LLVY-7-amido-4-methylcoumarin. NADPH-quinone oxidoreduc-tase (NQO1), heme oxygenase (HO)-1, kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) and Nrf2 were examined by Western blotting and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Cell apoptosis is measured through flow cytometry assay, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and retinal vascular leakage were assayed using CM-H2DCFDA fluorescent probes and Evans blue, respectively. Results: MG132 significantly inhibited the activation of 26S proteasome induced by diabetes or elevated glucose, and subsequently increased the expression of Nrf2, NQO1, and HO-1, and further reduced ROS accumulation. These changes were associated with a decrease of diabetes-induced retinal vascular leakage and retinal capillary cell apoptosis. Conclusions: MG132 decreases diabetes-induced 26S proteasome activation and exerts protective effects against retinal microvascular dysfunction in diabetic rats in association with the alleviation of retinal oxidative stress mediated by Nrf2.