Shahror, R. A., C. A. Morris, A. A. Mohammed, M. Wild, B. Zaman, C. D. Mitchell, P. H. Phillips, N. J. Rusch, E. shosha, and A. Y. Fouda, "Role of myeloid cells in ischemic retinopathies: recent advances and unanswered questions.", Journal of neuroinflammation, vol. 21, issue 1, pp. 65, 2024. Abstract

Myeloid cells including microglia and macrophages play crucial roles in retinal homeostasis by clearing cellular debris and regulating inflammation. These cells are activated in several blinding ischemic retinal diseases including diabetic retinopathy, where they may exert both beneficial and detrimental effects on neurovascular function and angiogenesis. Myeloid cells impact the progression of retinal pathologies and recent studies suggest that targeting myeloid cells is a promising therapeutic strategy to mitigate diabetic retinopathy and other ischemic retinal diseases. This review summarizes the recent advances in our understanding of the role of microglia and macrophages in retinal diseases and focuses on the effects of myeloid cells on neurovascular injury and angiogenesis in ischemic retinopathies. We highlight gaps in knowledge and advocate for a more detailed understanding of the role of myeloid cells in retinal ischemic injury to fully unlock the potential of targeting myeloid cells as a therapeutic strategy for retinal ischemia.

shosha, E., R. A. Shahror, C. A. Morris, Z. Xu, R. Lucas, M. E. McGee-Lawrence, N. J. Rusch, R. B. Caldwell, and A. Y. Fouda, "The arginase 1/ornithine decarboxylase pathway suppresses HDAC3 to ameliorate the myeloid cell inflammatory response: implications for retinal ischemic injury.", Cell death & disease, vol. 14, issue 9, pp. 621, 2023. Abstract

The enzyme arginase 1 (A1) hydrolyzes the amino acid arginine to form L-ornithine and urea. Ornithine is further converted to polyamines by the ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) enzyme. We previously reported that deletion of myeloid A1 in mice exacerbates retinal damage after ischemia/reperfusion (IR) injury. Furthermore, treatment with A1 protects against retinal IR injury in wild-type mice. PEG-A1 also mitigates the exaggerated inflammatory response of A1 knockout (KO) macrophages in vitro. Here, we sought to identify the anti-inflammatory pathway that confers macrophage A1-mediated protection against retinal IR injury. Acute elevation of intraocular pressure was used to induce retinal IR injury in mice. A multiplex cytokine assay revealed a marked increase in the inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) in the retina at day 5 after IR injury. In vitro, blocking the A1/ODC pathway augmented IL-1β and TNF-α production in stimulated macrophages. Furthermore, A1 treatment attenuated the stimulated macrophage metabolic switch to a pro-inflammatory glycolytic phenotype, whereas A1 deletion had the opposite effect. Screening for histone deacetylases (HDACs) which play a role in macrophage inflammatory response showed that A1 deletion or ODC inhibition increased the expression of HDAC3. We further showed the involvement of HDAC3 in the upregulation of TNF-α but not IL-1β in stimulated macrophages deficient in the A1/ODC pathway. Investigating HDAC3 KO macrophages showed a reduced inflammatory response and a less glycolytic phenotype upon stimulation. In vivo, HDAC3 co-localized with microglia/macrophages at day 2 after IR in WT retinas and was further increased in A1-deficient retinas. Collectively, our data provide initial evidence that A1 exerts its anti-inflammatory effect in macrophages via ODC-mediated suppression of HDAC3 and IL-1β. Collectively we propose that interventions that augment the A1/ODC pathway and inhibit HDAC3 may confer therapeutic benefits for the treatment of retinal ischemic diseases.

Fouda, A. Y., Z. Xu, J. Suwanpradid, M. Rojas, E. shosha, T. Lemtalsi, C. Patel, J. Xing, S. A. Zaidi, W. Zhi, et al., "Targeting proliferative retinopathy: Arginase 1 limits vitreoretinal neovascularization and promotes angiogenic repair.", Cell death & disease, vol. 13, issue 8, pp. 745, 2022. Abstract

Current therapies for treatment of proliferative retinopathy focus on retinal neovascularization (RNV) during advanced disease and can trigger adverse side-effects. Here, we have tested a new strategy for limiting neurovascular injury and promoting repair during early-stage disease. We have recently shown that treatment with a stable, pegylated drug form of the ureohydrolase enzyme arginase 1 (A1) provides neuroprotection in acute models of ischemia/reperfusion injury, optic nerve crush, and ischemic stroke. Now, we have determined the effects of this treatment on RNV, vascular repair, and retinal function in the mouse oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Our studies in the OIR model show that treatment with pegylated A1 (PEG-A1), inhibits pathological RNV, promotes angiogenic repair, and improves retinal function by a mechanism involving decreased expression of TNF, iNOS, and VEGF and increased expression of FGF2 and A1. We further show that A1 is expressed in myeloid cells and areas of RNV in retinal sections from mice with OIR and human diabetic retinopathy (DR) patients and in blood samples from ROP patients. Moreover, studies using knockout mice with hemizygous deletion of A1 show worsened RNV and retinal injury, supporting the protective role of A1 in limiting the OIR-induced pathology. Collectively, A1 is critically involved in reparative angiogenesis and neuroprotection in OIR. Pegylated A1 may offer a novel therapy for limiting retinal injury and promoting repair during proliferative retinopathy.

shosha, E., L. Qin, T. Lemtalsi, S. A. Zaidi, M. Rojas, Z. Xu, R. W. Caldwell, R. B. Caldwell, and A. Y. Fouda, "Investigation of Retinal Metabolic Function in Type 1 Diabetic Akita Mice.", Frontiers in cardiovascular medicine, vol. 9, pp. 900640, 2022. Abstract

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of vision loss in working age adults. Understanding the retinal metabolic response to circulating high glucose levels in diabetic patients is critical for development of new therapeutics to treat DR. Measuring retinal metabolic function using the Seahorse analyzer is a promising technique to investigate the effect of hyperglycemia on retinal glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration. Here, we analyzed the retinal metabolic function in young and old diabetic and control mice. We also compared the expression of key glycolytic enzymes between the two groups. The Seahorse XF analyzer was used to measure the metabolic function of retina explants from young and old type 1 diabetic Akita ( ) mice and their control littermates. Rate-limiting glycolytic enzymes were analyzed in retina lysates from the two age groups by Western blotting. Retinas from young adult Akita mice showed a decreased glycolytic response as compared to control littermates. However, this was not observed in the older mice. Western blotting analysis showed decreased expression of the glycolytic enzyme PFKFB3 in the young Akita mice retinas. Measurement of the oxygen consumption rate showed no difference in retinal mitochondrial respiration between Akita and WT littermates under normal glucose conditions despite mitochondrial fragmentation in the Akita retinas as examined by electron microscopy. However, Akita mice retinas showed decreased mitochondrial respiration under glucose-free conditions. In conclusion, diabetic retinas display a decreased glycolytic response during the early course of diabetes which is accompanied by a reduction in PFKFB3. Diabetic retinas exhibit decreased mitochondrial respiration under glucose deprivation.

Fouda, A. Y., W. Eldahshan, Z. Xu, T. Lemtalsi, E. shosha, S. A. Zaidi, A. A. Abdelrahman, P. N. - M. Cheng, P. S. Narayanan, W. R. Caldwell, et al., "Preclinical investigation of Pegylated arginase 1 as a treatment for retina and brain injury.", Experimental neurology, vol. 348, pp. 113923, 2022. Abstract

Arginase 1 (A1) is the enzyme that hydrolyzes the amino acid, L-arginine, to ornithine and urea. We have previously shown that A1 deletion worsens retinal ischemic injury, suggesting a protective role of A1. In this translational study, we aimed to study the utility of systemic pegylated A1 (PEG-A1, recombinant human arginase linked to polyethylene glycol) treatment in mouse models of acute retinal and brain injury. Cohorts of WT mice were subjected to retinal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury, traumatic optic neuropathy (TON) or brain cerebral ischemia via middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and treated with intraperitoneal injections of PEG-A1 or vehicle (PEG only). Drug penetration into retina and brain tissues was measured by western blotting and immunolabeling for PEG. Neuroprotection was measured in a blinded fashion by quantitation of NeuN (neuronal marker) immunolabeling of retina flat-mounts and brain infarct area using triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining. Furthermore, ex vivo retina explants and in vitro retina neuron cultures were subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) followed by reoxygenation (R) and treated with PEG-A1. PEG-A1 given systemically did not cross the intact blood-retina/brain barriers in sham controls but reached the retina and brain after injury. PEG-A1 provided neuroprotection after retinal IR injury, TON and cerebral ischemia. PEG-A1 treatment was also neuroprotective in retina explants subjected to OGD/R but did not improve survival in retinal neuronal cultures exposed to OGD/R. In summary, systemic PEG-A1 administration is neuroprotective and provides an excellent route to deliver the drug to the retina and the brain after acute injury.

shosha, E., A. Y. Fouda, T. Lemtalsi, S. Haigh, D. Fulton, A. Ibrahim, M. Al-Shabrawey, W. R. Caldwell, and R. B. Caldwell, "Endothelial arginase 2 mediates retinal ischemia/reperfusion injury by inducing mitochondrial dysfunction.", Molecular metabolism, vol. 53, pp. 101273, 2021. Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Retinal ischemic disease is a major cause of vision loss. Current treatment options are limited to late-stage diseases, and the molecular mechanisms of the initial insult are not fully understood. We have previously shown that the deletion of the mitochondrial arginase isoform, arginase 2 (A2), limits neurovascular injury in models of ischemic retinopathy. Here, we investigated the involvement of A2-mediated alterations in mitochondrial dynamics and function in the pathology.

METHODS: We used wild-type (WT), global A2 knockout (A2KO-) mice, cell-specific A2 knockout mice subjected to retinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), and bovine retinal endothelial cells (BRECs) subjected to an oxygen-glucose deprivation/reperfusion (OGD/R) insult. We used western blotting to measure levels of cell stress and death markers and the mitochondrial fragmentation protein, dynamin related protein 1 (Drp1). We also used live cell mitochondrial labeling and Seahorse XF analysis to evaluate mitochondrial fragmentation and function, respectively.

RESULTS: We found that the global deletion of A2 limited the I/R-induced disruption of retinal layers, fundus abnormalities, and albumin extravasation. The specific deletion of A2 in endothelial cells was protective against I/R-induced neurodegeneration. The OGD/R insult in BRECs increased A2 expression and induced cell stress and cell death, along with decreased mitochondrial respiration, increased Drp1 expression, and mitochondrial fragmentation. The overexpression of A2 in BREC also decreased mitochondrial respiration, promoted increases in the expression of Drp1, mitochondrial fragmentation, and cell stress and resulted in decreased cell survival. In contrast, the overexpression of the cytosolic isoform, arginase 1 (A1), did not affect these parameters.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to show that A2 in endothelial cells mediates retinal ischemic injury through a mechanism involving alterations in mitochondrial dynamics and function.

Fouda, A. Y., Z. Xu, E. shosha, T. Lemtalsi, J. Chen, H. A. Toque, R. Tritz, X. Cui, B. K. Stansfield, Y. Huo, et al., "Arginase 1 promotes retinal neurovascular protection from ischemia through suppression of macrophage inflammatory responses.", Cell death & disease, vol. 9, issue 10, pp. 1001, 2018. Abstract

The lack of effective therapies to limit neurovascular injury in ischemic retinopathy is a major clinical problem. This study aimed to examine the role of ureohydrolase enzyme, arginase 1 (A1), in retinal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. A1 competes with nitric oxide synthase (NOS) for their common substrate L-arginine. A1-mediated L-arginine depletion reduces nitric oxide (NO) formation by NOS leading to vascular dysfunction when endothelial NOS is involved but prevents inflammatory injury when inducible NOS is involved. Studies were performed using wild-type (WT) mice, global A1 knockout (KO), endothelial-specific A1 KO, and myeloid-specific A1 KO mice subjected to retinal IR injury. Global as well as myeloid-specific A1 KO mice showed worsened IR-induced neuronal loss and retinal thinning. Deletion of A1 in endothelial cells had no effect, while treatment with PEGylated (PEG) A1 improved neuronal survival in WT mice. In addition, A1 KO mice showed worsened vascular injury manifested by increased acellular capillaries. Western blotting analysis of retinal tissue showed increased inflammatory and necroptotic markers with A1 deletion. In vitro experiments showed that macrophages lacking A1 exhibit increased inflammatory response upon LPS stimulation. PEG-A1 treatment dampened this inflammatory response and decreased the LPS-induced metabolic reprogramming. Moreover, intravitreal injection of A1 KO macrophages or systemic macrophage depletion with clodronate liposomes increased neuronal loss after IR injury. These results demonstrate that A1 reduces IR injury-induced retinal neurovascular degeneration via dampening macrophage inflammatory responses. Increasing A1 offers a novel strategy for limiting neurovascular injury and promoting macrophage-mediated repair.

Xu, Z., A. Y. Fouda, T. Lemtalsi, E. shosha, M. Rojas, F. Liu, C. Patel, W. R. Caldwell, S. P. Narayanan, and R. B. Caldwell, "Retinal Neuroprotection From Optic Nerve Trauma by Deletion of Arginase 2.", Frontiers in neuroscience, vol. 12, pp. 970, 2018. Abstract

Our previous studies have implicated expression of the mitochondrial isoform of the arginase enzyme arginase 2 (A2) in neurovascular injury during ischemic retinopathies. The aim of this study was to characterize the specific involvement of A2 in retinal injury following optic nerve crush (ONC). To accomplish this, wild-type (WT) or A2 knockout (A2) mice were subjected to ONC injury. The contralateral eye served as sham control. Quantitative RT-PCR and western blot were used to evaluate mRNA and protein expression. Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) survival was assessed in retinal whole mounts. Axonal sprouting was determined by anterograde transport of Cholera Toxin B (CTB). These analyses showed increased A2 expression following ONC. Numbers of NeuN-positive neurons as well as Brn3a- and RBPMS-positive RGC were decreased in the WT retinas at 14 days after ONC as compared to the sham controls. This ONC-induced neuronal loss was diminished in the A2 retinas. Similarly, axonal degeneration was ameliorated by A2 deletion whereas axon sprouting was enhanced. Significant retinal thinning was also seen in WT retinas at 21 days after ONC, and this was blocked in A2 mice. Cell death studies showed an increase in TUNEL positive cells in the RGC layer at 5 days after ONC in the WT retinas, and this was attenuated by A2 deletion. ONC increased glial cell activation in WT retinas, and this was significantly reduced by A2 deletion. Western blotting showed a marked increase in the neurotrophin, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its downstream signaling in A2 retinas vs. WT after ONC. This was associated with increases in the axonal regeneration marker GAP-43 in A2 retinas. Furthermore, A2 retinas showed decreased NLRP3 inflammasome activation and lower interleukin (IL-) 1β/IL-18 levels as compared to WT retinas subjected to ONC. Collectively, our results show that deletion of A2 limits ONC-induced neurodegeneration and glial activation, and enhances axonal sprouting by a mechanism involving increases in BDNF and decreases in retinal inflammation. These data demonstrate that A2 plays an important role in ONC-induced retinal damage. Blockade of A2 activity may offer a therapeutic strategy for preventing vision loss induced by traumatic retinal injury.

Pichavaram, P., C. D. Palani, C. Patel, Z. Xu, E. shosha, A. Y. Fouda, R. B. Caldwell, and S. P. Narayanan, "Targeting Polyamine Oxidase to Prevent Excitotoxicity-Induced Retinal Neurodegeneration.", Frontiers in neuroscience, vol. 12, pp. 956, 2018. Abstract

Dysfunction of retinal neurons is a major cause of vision impairment in blinding diseases that affect children and adults worldwide. Cellular damage resulting from polyamine catabolism has been demonstrated to be a major player in many neurodegenerative conditions. We have previously shown that inhibition of polyamine oxidase (PAO) using MDL 72527 significantly reduced retinal neurodegeneration and cell death signaling pathways in hyperoxia-mediated retinopathy. In the present study, we investigated the impact of PAO inhibition in limiting retinal neurodegeneration in a model of NMDA ()-induced excitotoxicity. Adult mice (8-10 weeks old) were given intravitreal injections (20 nmoles) of NMDA or NMLA (, control). Intraperitoneal injection of MDL 72527 (40 mg/kg body weight/day) or vehicle (normal saline) was given 24 h before NMDA or NMLA treatment and continued until the animals were sacrificed (varied from 1 to 7 days). Analyses of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) layer cell survival was performed on retinal flatmounts. Retinal cryostat sections were prepared for immunostaining, TUNEL assay and retinal thickness measurements. Fresh frozen retinal samples were used for Western blotting analysis. A marked decrease in the neuronal survival in the RGC layer was observed in NMDA treated retinas compared to their NMLA treated controls, as studied by NeuN immunostaining of retinal flatmounts. Treatment with MDL 72527 significantly improved survival of NeuN positive cells in the NMDA treated retinas. Excitotoxicity induced neurodegeneration was also demonstrated by reduced levels of synaptophysin and degeneration of inner retinal neurons in NMDA treated retinas compared to controls. TUNEL labeling studies showed increased cell death in the NMDA treated retinas. However, treatment with MDL 72527 markedly reduced these changes. Analysis of signaling pathways during excitotoxic injury revealed the downregulation of pro-survival signaling molecules p-ERK and p-Akt, and the upregulation of a pro-apoptotic molecule BID, which were normalized with PAO inhibition. Our data demonstrate that inhibition of polyamine oxidase blocks NMDA-induced retinal neurodegeneration and promotes cell survival, thus offering a new therapeutic target for retinal neurodegenerative disease conditions.

shosha, E., A. Y. Fouda, P. S. Narayanan, W. R. Caldwell, and R. B. Caldwell, "Is the Arginase Pathway a Novel Therapeutic Avenue for Diabetic Retinopathy?", Journal of clinical medicine, vol. 9, issue 2, 2020. Abstract

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of blindness in working age Americans. Clinicians diagnose DR based on its characteristic vascular pathology, which is evident upon clinical exam. However, extensive research has shown that diabetes causes significant neurovascular dysfunction prior to the development of clinically apparent vascular damage. While laser photocoagulation and/or anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies are often effective for limiting the late-stage vascular pathology, we still do not have an effective treatment to limit the neurovascular dysfunction or promote repair during the early stages of DR. This review addresses the role of arginase as a mediator of retinal neurovascular injury and therapeutic target for early stage DR. Arginase is the ureohydrolase enzyme that catalyzes the production of L-ornithine and urea from L-arginine. Arginase upregulation has been associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and peripheral vascular dysfunction in models of both types of diabetes. The arginase enzyme has been identified as a therapeutic target in cardiovascular disease and central nervous system disease including stroke and ischemic retinopathies. Here, we discuss and review the literature on arginase-induced retinal neurovascular dysfunction in models of DR. We also speculate on the therapeutic potential of arginase in DR and its related underlying mechanisms.