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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    • "Photoreceptor death can be associated with RPE impairment, as this layer plays a supportive role to the photoreceptors . Further, the RPE accumulates iron, which increases with aging and has been implicated in retinal degeneration [9] [10] [11] and linked to impairment of RPE functions such as phagocytosis [12]. Given the central role of iron in the pathogenesis of FRDA, we questioned if the RPE could also be an affected tissue in FRDA. "
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    ABSTRACT: We assessed structural elements of the retina in individuals with Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) and in mouse models of FRDA, as well as functions of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in FRDA using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We analysed the retina of the FRDA mouse models YG22R and YG8R containing a human FRATAXIN (FXN) transgene by histology. We complemented this work with post-mortem evaluation of eyes from FRDA patients. Finally, we derived RPE cells from patient FRDA-iPSCs to assess oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and phagocytosis. We showed that whilst the YG22R and YG8R mouse models display elements of retinal degeneration, they do not recapitulate the loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) found in the human disease. Further, RPE cells differentiated from human FRDA-iPSCs showed normal OXPHOS and we did not observe functional impairment of the RPE in Humans.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Frontiers in Pharmacology
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Molecular vision
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