Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2024 Jan 2;65(1):14. doi: 10.1167/iovs.65.1.14.
PURPOSE: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the most common reasons for blindness. uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), an uncoupling protein located in mitochondria, has been reported to be related to metabolic and vascular diseases. This research aimed to illustrate the function and mechanism of UCP2 in the pathogenesis of DR.
METHODS: Human epiretinal membranes were collected to investigate the expression of UCP2 by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and immunofluorescence. Primary human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRECs) were cultured in high glucose (HG) to establish an in vitro cell model for DR. Flow cytometry analysis was used to measure intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). Senescence levels were evaluated by the senescence-associated beta-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) assay, the expression of senescence marker P21, and cell-cycle analysis. Adenovirus-mediated UCP2 overexpression or knockdown and specific inhibitors were administered to investigate the underlying regulatory mechanism.
RESULTS: Proliferative fibrovascular membranes from patients with DR illustrated the downregulation of UCP2 and sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) by qRT-PCR and immunofluorescence. Persistent hyperglycemia-induced UCP2 downregulation in the progress of DR and adenovirus-mediated UCP2 overexpression protected endothelial cells from hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress and senescence. Under hyperglycemic conditions, UCP2 overexpression attenuated NAD+ downregulation; hence, it promoted the expression and activity of SIRT3, an NAD+-dependent deacetylase regulating mitochondrial function. 3-TYP, a selective SIRT3 inhibitor, abolished the UCP2-mediated protective effect against oxidative stress and senescence.
CONCLUSIONS: UCP2 overexpression relieved oxidative stress and senescence based on a novel mechanism whereby UCP2 can regulate the NAD+-SIRT3 axis. Targeting oxidative stress and senescence amelioration, UCP2-SIRT3 signaling may serve as a method for the prevention and treatment of DR and other diabetic vascular diseases.