J Vis Exp. 2023 Feb 3;(192). doi: 10.3791/64572.
Metabolic dysfunction of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) is a key pathogenic driver of retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). Since RPE are highly metabolically-active cells, alterations in their metabolic status reflect changes in their health and function. High-resolution respirometry allows for real-time kinetic analysis of the two major bioenergetic pathways, glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), through quantification of the extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) and oxygen consumption rate (OCR), respectively. The following is an optimized protocol for conducting high-resolution respirometry on primary human retinal pigment epithelial cells (H-RPE). This protocol provides a detailed description of the steps involved in producing bioenergetic profiles of RPE to define their basal and maximal OXPHOS and glycolytic capacities. Exposing H-RPE to different drug injections targeting the mitochondrial and glycolytic machinery results in defined bioenergetic profiles, from which key metabolic parameters can be calculated. This protocol highlights the enhanced response of BAM15 as an uncoupling agent compared to carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP) to induce the maximal respiration capacity in RPE. This protocol can be utilized to study the bioenergetic status of RPE under different disease conditions and test the efficacy of novel drugs in restoring the basal metabolic status of RPE.