Heyingwuzi formulation alleviates diabetic retinopathy by promoting mitophagy via the HIF-1α/BNIP3/NIX axis

World J Diabetes. 2024 Jun 15;15(6):1317-1339. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v15.i6.1317.


BACKGROUND: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the primary cause of visual problems in patients with diabetes. The Heyingwuzi formulation (HYWZF) is effective against DR.

AIM: To determine the HYWZF prevention mechanisms, especially those underlying mitophagy.

METHODS: Human retinal capillary endothelial cells (HRCECs) were treated with high glucose (hg), HYWZF serum, PX-478, or Mdivi-1 in vitro. Then, cell counting kit-8, transwell, and tube formation assays were used to evaluate HRCEC proliferation, invasion, and tube formation, respectively. Transmission electron microscopy was used to assess mitochondrial morphology, and Western blotting was used to determine the protein levels. Flow cytometry was used to assess cell apoptosis, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and mitochondrial membrane potential. Moreover, C57BL/6 mice were established in vivo using streptozotocin and treated with HYWZF for four weeks. Blood glucose levels and body weight were monitored continuously. Changes in retinal characteristics were evaluated using hematoxylin and eosin, tar violet, and periodic acid-Schiff staining. Protein levels in retinal tissues were determined via Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and immunostaining.

RESULTS: HYWZF inhibited excessive ROS production, apoptosis, tube formation, and invasion in hg-induced HRCECs via mitochondrial autophagy in vitro. It increased the mRNA expression levels of BCL2-interacting protein 3 (BNIP3), FUN14 domain-containing 1, BNIP3-like (BNIP3L, also known as NIX), PARKIN, PTEN-induced kinase 1, and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α. Moreover, it downregulated the protein levels of vascular endothelial cell growth factor and increased the light chain 3-II/I ratio. However, PX-478 and Mdivi-1 reversed these effects. Additionally, PX-478 and Mdivi-1 rescued the effects of HYWZF by decreasing oxidative stress and apoptosis and increasing mitophagy. HYWZF intervention improved the symptoms of diabetes, tissue damage, number of acellular capillaries, and oxidative stress in vivo. Furthermore, in vivo experiments confirmed the results of in vitro experiments.

CONCLUSION: HYWZF alleviated DR and associated damage by promoting mitophagy via the HIF-1α/BNIP3/NIX axis.

PMID:38983802 | PMC:PMC11229969 | DOI:10.4239/wjd.v15.i6.1317