Retinal pigment epithelium has a crucial role in the physiology and pathophysiology of the retina due to its location and metabolism. Oxidative damage has been demonstrated as a pathogenic mechanism in several retinal diseases, and reactive oxygen species are certainly important by-products of ethanol (EtOH) metabolism. Autophagy has been shown to exert a protective effect in different cellular and animal models. Thus, in our model, EtOH treatment increases autophagy flux, in a concentration-dependent manner. Mitochondrial morphology seems to be clearly altered under EtOH exposure, leading to an apparent increase in mitochondrial fission. An increase in 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein fluorescence and accumulation of lipid peroxidation products, such as 4-hydroxy-nonenal (4-HNE), among others were confirmed. The characterization of these structures confirmed their nature as aggresomes. Hence, autophagy seems to have a cytoprotective role in ARPE-19 cells under EtOH damage, by degrading fragmented mitochondria and 4-HNE aggresomes. Herein, we describe the central implication of autophagy in human retinal pigment epithelial cells upon oxidative stress induced by EtOH, with possible implications for other conditions and diseases.
PMID: 25032851 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]