Pigment epithelium-derived factor mediates retinal ganglion cell neuroprotection by suppression of caspase-2

Vasanthy Vigneswara, Zubair Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) undergo rapid cell death by apoptosis after injury but can be rescued by suppression of caspase-2 (CASP2) using an siRNA to CASP2 (siCASP2). Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), has neuroprotective and anti-angiogenic functions and protects RGC from death. The purpose of this study was to investigate if suppression of CASP2 is a possible mechanism of neuroprotection by PEDF in RGC. Adult rat retinal cells were treated in vitro with sub-optimal and optimal concentrations of siCASP2 and PEDF and levels of CASP2 mRNA and RGC survival were then quantified. Optic nerve crush (ONC) injury followed by intravitreal injections of siCASP2 or PEDF and eye drops of PEDF-34 were also used to determine CASP2 mRNA and protein reduction. Results showed that PEDF and PEDF-34 significantly suppressed CASP2 mRNA in culture, by 1.85- and 3.04-fold, respectively, and increased RGC survival by 63.2 ± 3.8% and 81.9 ± 6.6%, respectively compared to cells grown in Neurobasal-A alone. RGC survival was significantly reduced in glial proliferation inhibited and purified RGC cultures suggesting that some of the effects of PEDF were glia-mediated. In addition, intravitreal injection of PEDF and eye drops of PEDF-34 after ONC also suppressed CASP2 mRNA levels by 1.82- and 3.89-fold and cleaved caspase-2 (C-CASP2) protein levels by 4.98- and 8.93-fold compared to ONC + PBS vehicle groups, respectively, without affecting other executioner caspases. Treatment of retinal cultures with PEDF and PEDF-34 promoted the secretion of neurotrophic factors (NTF) into the culture media, of which brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) caused the greatest reduction in CASP2 mRNA and C-CASP2 protein. The neuroprotective effects of PEDF were blocked by a polyclonal antibody and PEDF suppressed key elements in the apoptotic pathway. In conclusion, this study shows that some of the RGC neuroprotective effects of PEDF is regulated through suppression of CASP2 and downstream apoptotic signalling molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
JournalCell death & disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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