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.

Narayanan, P. S., E. shosha, and C. D Palani, "Spermine oxidase: A promising therapeutic target for neurodegeneration in diabetic retinopathy.", Pharmacological research, vol. 147, pp. 104299, 2019. Abstract

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), is a significant public health issue and the leading cause of blindness in working-aged adults worldwide. The vision loss associated with DR affects patients' quality of life and has negative social and psychological effects. In the past, diabetic retinopathy was considered as a vascular disease; however, it is now recognized to be a neuro-vascular disease of the retina. Current therapies for DR, such as laser photocoagulation and anti-VEGF therapy, treat advanced stages of the disease, particularly the vasculopathy and have adverse side effects. Unavailability of effective treatments to prevent the incidence or progression of DR is a major clinical problem. There is a great need for therapeutic interventions capable of preventing retinal damage in DR patients. A growing body of evidence shows that neurodegeneration is an early event in DR pathogenesis. Therefore, studies of the underlying mechanisms that lead to neurodegeneration are essential for identifying new therapeutic targets in the early stages of DR. Deregulation of the polyamine metabolism is implicated in various neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, renal failure, and diabetes. Spermine Oxidase (SMOX) is a highly inducible enzyme, and its dysregulation can alter polyamine homeostasis. The oxidative products of polyamine metabolism are capable of inducing cell damage and death. The current review provides insight into the SMOX-regulated molecular mechanisms of cellular damage and dysfunction, and its potential as a therapeutic target for diabetic retinopathy. Structural and functional changes in the diabetic retina and the mechanisms leading to neuronal damage (excitotoxicity, loss of neurotrophic factors, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction etc.) are also summarized in this review. Furthermore, existing therapies and new approaches to neuroprotection are discussed.

shosha, E., Z. Xu, H. Yokota, A. Saul, M. Rojas, W. R. Caldwell, R. B. Caldwell, and P. S. Narayanan, "Arginase 2 promotes neurovascular degeneration during ischemia/reperfusion injury.", Cell death & disease, vol. 7, issue 11, pp. e2483, 2016 11 24. Abstract

Retinal ischemia is a major cause of visual impairment and blindness and is involved in various disorders including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, optic neuropathies and retinopathy of prematurity. Neurovascular degeneration is a common feature of these pathologies. Our lab has previously reported that the ureahydrolase arginase 2 (A2) is involved in ischemic retinopathies. Here, we are introducing A2 as a therapeutic target to prevent neurovascular injury after retinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) insult. Studies were performed with mice lacking both copies of A2 (A2) and wild-type (WT) controls (C57BL6J). I/R insult was conducted on the right eye and the left eye was used as control. Retinas were collected for analysis at different times (3 h-4 week after injury). Neuronal and microvascular degeneration were evaluated using NeuN staining and vascular digests, respectively. Glial activation was evaluated by glial fibrillary acidic protein expression. Necrotic cell death was studied by propidium iodide labeling and western blot for RIP-3. Arginase expression was determined by western blot and quantitative RT-PCR. Retinal function was determined by electroretinography (ERG). A2 mRNA and protein levels were increased in WT I/R. A2 deletion significantly reduced ganglion cell loss and microvascular degeneration and preserved retinal morphology after I/R. Glial activation, reactive oxygen species formation and cell death by necroptosis were significantly reduced by A2 deletion. ERG showed improved positive scotopic threshold response with A2 deletion. This study shows for the first time that neurovascular injury after retinal I/R is mediated through increased expression of A2. Deletion of A2 was found to be beneficial in reducing neurovascular degeneration after I/R.

Patel, C., Z. Xu, E. Shosha, J. Xing, R. Lucas, R. W. Caldwell, R. B. Caldwell, and S. P. Narayanan, "Treatment with polyamine oxidase inhibitor reduces microglial activation and limits vascular injury in ischemic retinopathy.", Biochimica et biophysica acta, vol. 1862, issue 9, pp. 1628-39, 2016 Sep. Abstract

Retinal vascular injury is a major cause of vision impairment in ischemic retinopathies. Insults such as hyperoxia, oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to this pathology. Previously, we showed that hyperoxia-induced retinal neurodegeneration is associated with increased polyamine oxidation. Here, we are studying the involvement of polyamine oxidases in hyperoxia-induced injury and death of retinal vascular endothelial cells. New-born C57BL6/J mice were exposed to hyperoxia (70% O2) from postnatal day (P) 7 to 12 and were treated with the polyamine oxidase inhibitor MDL 72527 or vehicle starting at P6. Mice were sacrificed after different durations of hyperoxia and their retinas were analyzed to determine the effects on vascular injury, microglial cell activation, and inflammatory cytokine profiling. The results of this analysis showed that MDL 72527 treatment significantly reduced hyperoxia-induced retinal vascular injury and enhanced vascular sprouting as compared with the vehicle controls. These protective effects were correlated with significant decreases in microglial activation as well as levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. In order to model the effects of polyamine oxidation in causing microglial activation in vitro, studies were performed using rat brain microvascular endothelial cells treated with conditioned-medium from rat retinal microglia stimulated with hydrogen peroxide. Conditioned-medium from activated microglial cultures induced cell stress signals and cell death in microvascular endothelial cells. These studies demonstrate the involvement of polyamine oxidases in hyperoxia-induced retinal vascular injury and retinal inflammation in ischemic retinopathy, through mechanisms involving cross-talk between endothelial cells and resident retinal microglia.

shosha, E., Z. Xu, P. S. Narayanan, T. Lemtalsi, A. Y. Fouda, M. Rojas, J. Xing, D. Fulton, W. R. Caldwell, and R. B. Caldwell, "Mechanisms of Diabetes-Induced Endothelial Cell Senescence: Role of Arginase 1.", International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 19, issue 4, 2018 Apr 17. Abstract

We have recently found that diabetes-induced premature senescence of retinal endothelial cells is accompanied by NOX2-NADPH oxidase-induced increases in the ureohydrolase enzyme arginase 1 (A1). Here, we used genetic strategies to determine the specific involvement of A1 in diabetes-induced endothelial cell senescence. We used A1 knockout mice and wild type mice that were rendered diabetic with streptozotocin and retinal endothelial cells (ECs) exposed to high glucose or transduced with adenovirus to overexpress A1 for these experiments. ABH [2(S)-Amino-6-boronohexanoic acid] was used to inhibit arginase activity. We used Western blotting, immunolabeling, quantitative PCR, and senescence associated β-galactosidase (SA β-Gal) activity to evaluate senescence. Analyses of retinal tissue extracts from diabetic mice showed significant increases in mRNA expression of the senescence-related proteins p16, p21, and p53 when compared with non-diabetic mice. SA β-Gal activity and p16 immunoreactivity were also increased in retinal vessels from diabetic mice. A1 gene deletion or pharmacological inhibition protected against the induction of premature senescence. A1 overexpression or high glucose treatment increased SA β-Gal activity in cultured ECs. These results demonstrate that A1 is critically involved in diabetes-induced senescence of retinal ECs. Inhibition of arginase activity may therefore be an effective therapeutic strategy to alleviate diabetic retinopathy by preventing premature senescence.