Caspase-3 inhibitor transiently delays inherited retinal degeneration in C3H mice carrying the rd gene
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Background: The effect of a caspase-3 inhibitor on retinal degeneration in C3H mice carrying the rd gene, a mutation of a rod-specific phosphodiesterase, was investigated. Methods: A quantity of 2 mg/kg of Ac-DEVD-CHO, as inhibitor, was injected intraperitoneally every other day from 8 days of age, and retinal damage was compared with that in saline-treated C3H mice at 13 days (1 day after the third treatment) and 17 days of age (1 day after the fifth treatment). Retina of ICR mice not carrying rd gene was also evaluated under the same protocol. The efficacy of Ac-DEVD-CHO was evaluated based on total retinal thickness and outer retinal thickness (thickness of outer nuclear layer and photoreceptor layer). An apoptotic index and a cell proliferation index for the photoreceptor cells, at 13 days of age, were calculated based on terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate-digoxigenin nick-end labeling (TUNEL) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) labeling, respectively. Results: At 13 days of age, total and outer retinal thickness in saline-treated C3H mice were 140.3 µm and 37.5 µm, compared with 160.4 µm and 49.5 µm, respectively, in Ac-DEVD-CHO-treated C3H mice (P<0.01, respectively). In ICR mice, total and outer retinal thickness were 182.1 µm and 90.9 µm, respectively, in saline- treated mice and 183.8 µm and 89.6 µm in Ac-DEVD-CHO-treated mice (not significant). At this time, the TUNEL index was 23.52 cells/104 µm2 of outer nuclear layer in saline-treated C3H mice; Ac-DEVD-CHO treatment significantly reduced this value to 18.73 cells/104 µm2 (P<0.05). The TUNEL index in saline- and Ac-DEVD-CHO-treated ICR mice was 0.59 cells/104 µm2 and 0.80 cells/104 µm2, respectively (not significant); Ac-DEVD-CHO treatment had no influence on normally developing retina. The PCNA index was not affected by Ac-DEVD-CHO-treatment. However, at 17 days of age, Ac-DEVD-CHO treatment did not ameliorate retinal degeneration. Conclusions: The caspase-3 inhibitor was transiently effective in delaying retinal degeneration through inhibition of the apoptosis of photoreceptor cells in rd gene-carrying mice. The use of caspase-3 inhibitors may have therapeutic applications in the treatment of human retinal degeneration.
KeywordsProliferate Cell Nuclear Antigen Photoreceptor Cell Retinal Thickness Retinal Degeneration Outer Nuclear Layer
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