Iron homeostasis and toxicity in retinal degeneration

F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology, Scheie Eye Institute, 305 Stellar-Chance Labs, 422 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Progress in Retinal and Eye Research (Impact Factor: 8.73). 12/2007; 26(6):649-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2007.07.004
Source: PubMed


Iron is essential for many metabolic processes but can also cause damage. As a potent generator of hydroxyl radical, the most reactive of the free radicals, iron can cause considerable oxidative stress. Since iron is absorbed through diet but not excreted except through menstruation, total body iron levels buildup with age. Macular iron levels increase with age, in both men and women. This iron has the potential to contribute to retinal degeneration. Here we present an overview of the evidence suggesting that iron may contribute to retinal degenerations. Intraocular iron foreign bodies cause retinal degeneration. Retinal iron buildup resulting from hereditary iron homeostasis disorders aceruloplasminemia, Friedreich's ataxia, and panthothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration cause retinal degeneration. Mice with targeted mutation of the iron exporter ceruloplasmin have age-dependent retinal iron overload and a resulting retinal degeneration with features of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Post mortem retinas from patients with AMD have more iron and the iron carrier transferrin than age-matched controls. Over the past 10 years much has been learned about the intricate network of proteins involved in iron handling. Many of these, including transferrin, transferrin receptor, divalent metal transporter-1, ferritin, ferroportin, ceruloplasmin, hephaestin, iron-regulatory protein, and histocompatibility leukocyte antigen class I-like protein involved in iron homeostasis (HFE) have been found in the retina. Some of these proteins have been found in the cornea and lens as well. Levels of the iron carrier transferrin are high in the aqueous and vitreous humors. The functions of these proteins in other tissues, combined with studies on cultured ocular tissues, genetically engineered mice, and eye exams on patients with hereditary iron diseases provide clues regarding their ocular functions. Iron may play a role in a broad range of ocular diseases, including glaucoma, cataract, AMD, and conditions causing intraocular hemorrhage. While iron deficiency must be prevented, the therapeutic potential of limiting iron-induced ocular oxidative damage is high. Systemic, local, or topical iron chelation with an expanding repertoire of drugs has clinical potential.

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    • "Furthermore, ferritin is distributed in a polarized manner in the RPE and was more concentrated near the basolateral pole (Hahn et al., 2004 and Figure 2B Joshua Dunaief, personal communication ). In addition, the role of DMT1 in the retina and its localization in RPE remains unclear (He et al., 2007). Taken together, the physiology of iron transport across the RPE barrier awaits interesting research. "
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    ABSTRACT: Epithelial barriers are found in many tissues such as the intestine, kidney and brain where they separate the external environment from the body or a specific compartment from its periphery. Due to the tight junctions that connect epithelial barrier-cells (EBCs), the transport of compounds takes place nearly exclusively across the apical or basolateral membrane, the cell-body and the opposite membrane of the polarized EBC, and is regulated on numerous levels including barrier-specific adapted trafficking-machineries. Iron is an essential element but toxic at excess. Therefore, all iron-requiring organisms tightly regulate iron concentrations on systemic and cellular levels. In contrast to most cell types that control just their own iron homeostasis, EBCs also regulate homeostasis of the compartment they enclose or the body as a whole. Iron is transported across EBCs by specialized transporters such as the transferrin receptor and ferroportin. Recently, the iron storage protein ferritin was also attributed a role in the regulation of systemic iron homeostasis and we gathered evidence from the literature and original data that ferritin is polarized in EBC, suggesting also a role for ferritin in iron trafficking across EBCs.
    Frontiers in Pharmacology 08/2014; 5:194. DOI:10.3389/fphar.2014.00194 · 3.80 Impact Factor
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    • "However, this is not because the retinal iron levels respond passively to circulating levels of iron but because almost all iron-regulatory proteins that are expressed in the liver and other tissues are also expressed in the retina. Importantly, evidence has emerged in recent years to indicate that the retina maintains significant autonomous control in iron homeostasis [17,18]. Various cell types within the retina actively participate in maintaining iron homeostasis. "
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    ABSTRACT: Matriptase-2 (also known as TMPRSS6) is a critical regulator of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin in the liver; matriptase-2 cleaves membrane-bound hemojuvelin and consequently alters bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling. Hemojuvelin and hepcidin are expressed in the retina and play a critical role in retinal iron homeostasis. However, no information on the expression and function of matriptase-2 in the retina is available. The purpose of the present study was to examine the retinal expression of matriptase-2 and its role in retinal iron homeostasis. RT-PCR, quantitative PCR (qPCR), and immunofluorescence were used to analyze the expression of matriptase-2 and other iron-regulatory proteins in the mouse retina. Polarized localization of matriptase-2 in the RPE was evaluated using markers for the apical and basolateral membranes. Morphometric analysis of retinas from wild-type and matriptase-2 knockout (Tmprss6(msk/msk) ) mice was also performed. Retinal iron status in Tmprss6(msk/msk) mice was evaluated by comparing the expression levels of ferritin and transferrin receptor 1 between wild-type and knockout mice. BMP signaling was monitored by the phosphorylation status of Smads1/5/8 and expression levels of Id1 while interleukin-6 signaling was monitored by the phosphorylation status of STAT3. Matriptase-2 is expressed in the mouse retina with expression detectable in all retinal cell types. Expression of matriptase-2 is restricted to the apical membrane in the RPE where hemojuvelin, the substrate for matriptase-2, is also present. There is no marked difference in retinal morphology between wild-type mice and Tmprss6(msk/msk) mice, except minor differences in specific retinal layers. The knockout mouse retina is iron-deficient, demonstrable by downregulation of the iron-storage protein ferritin and upregulation of transferrin receptor 1 involved in iron uptake. Hepcidin is upregulated in Tmprss6(msk/msk) mouse retinas, particularly in the neural retina. BMP signaling is downregulated while interleukin-6 signaling is upregulated in Tmprss6(msk/msk) mouse retinas, suggesting that the upregulaton of hepcidin in knockout mouse retinas occurs through interleukin-6 signaling and not through BMP signaling. The iron-regulatory serine protease matriptase-2 is expressed in the retina, and absence of this enzyme leads to iron deficiency and increased expression of hemojuvelin and hepcidin in the retina. The upregulation of hepcidin expression in Tmprss6(msk/msk) mouse retinas does not occur via BMP signaling but likely via the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. We conclude that matriptase-2 is a critical participant in retinal iron homeostasis.
    Molecular vision 04/2014; 20:561-574. · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    • "Altered iron homeostasis and iron overload were implicated in retinal and macular degeneration, including in rd10 mice, and it was suggested that iron may exacerbate oxidative retinal injury in these diseases by generation of ROS through the Fenton reaction [13], [17], [21], [36]–[38]. In addition, Chen et al. found alterations in levels of iron metabolism associated proteins in normal aged rodent retinas along with elevated retinal iron. "
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    ABSTRACT: Oxidative injury is involved in retinal and macular degeneration. We aim to assess if retinal degeneration associated with genetic defect modulates the retinal threshold for encountering additional oxidative challenges. Retinal oxidative injury was induced in degenerating retinas (rd10) and in control mice (WT) by intravitreal injections of paraquat (PQ). Retinal function and structure was evaluated by electroretinogram (ERG) and histology, respectively. Oxidative injury was assessed by immunohistochemistry for 4-Hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE), and by Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances (TBARS) and protein carbonyl content (PCC) assays. Anti-oxidant mechanism was assessed by quantitative real time PCR (QPCR) for mRNA of antioxidant genes and genes related to iron metabolism, and by catalase activity assay. Three days following PQ injections (1 µl of 0.25, 0.75, and 2 mM) the average ERG amplitudes decreased more in the WT mice compared with the rd10 mice. For example, following 2 mM PQ injection, ERG amplitudes reduced 1.84-fold more in WT compared with rd10 mice (p = 0.02). Injection of 4 mM PQ resulted in retinal destruction. Altered retina morphology associated with PQ was substantially more severe in WT eyes compared with rd10 eyes. Oxidative injury according to HNE staining and TBARS assay increased 1.3-fold and 2.1-fold more, respectively, in WT compared with rd10 mice. At baseline, prior to PQ injection, mRNA levels of antioxidant genes (Superoxide Dismutase1, Glutathione Peroxidase1, Catalase) and of Transferrin measured by quantitative PCR were 2.1-7.8-fold higher in rd10 compared with WT mice (p<0.01 each), and catalase activity was 1.7-fold higher in rd10 (p = 0.0006). This data suggests that degenerating rd10 retinas encounter a relatively lower degree of damage in response to oxidative injury compared with normal retinas. Constitutive up-regulation of the oxidative defense mechanism in degenerating retinas may confer such relative protection from oxidative injury.
    PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e87751. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0087751 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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