Purpose. Lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF) is upregulated in response to stress and enhances the survival of neurons in the retina and optic nerve, as well as a wide range of other cells, such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Photore-ceptor protection was investigated in the RCS rat retinal degeneration model after Ledgf delivery with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) and the mechanism of protection explored. Methods. Thirty-six RCS and nine P23H rats had bilateral sub-retinal injections of AAV-Ledgf in one eye and buffer in the contralateral eye as the control. Retinal function was evaluated 8 weeks later by the electroretinogram and compared with photoreceptor cell layer count. LEDGF mRNA and protein levels and mRNA levels of known stress-related factors were compared in treated and control retinas to explore the mechanism of LEDGF protection. Nine RCS rats were treated with adenovirus-heat shock protein 27 (Ad-HSP27) and examined for protection. Results. Significant photoreceptor protection was evident functionally and morphologically in 65% to 100% of the RCS rats treated at early ages of up to 7 weeks. Cell protection was more prominent in the superior retinal hemisphere which has a slower natural degeneration rate in untreated eyes. Although many of the heat shock proteins and other stress-related genes showed significant elevation in the AAV-Ledgf-treated eyes, all increases were approximately twofold or less. Transduction of retinal cells with Ad-HSP27 also resulted in photoreceptor protection. AAV-Ledgf elicited no photoreceptor functional protection in P23H rhodopsin transgenic rat retina. Conclusions. Chronic LEDGF treatment via AAV-Ledgf administration gave successful protection of photoreceptors in the RCS rat retina and retarded cell death by about 2 weeks. Induction of heat shock proteins also gave photoreceptor protection. However, compelling evidence was not found that LEDGF protection was associated with upregulation of heat shock proteins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience