MDPI, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(22), p. 9218, 2021
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, causes personal suffering and high socioeconomic costs. While there has been progress in the treatments for the neovascular form of AMD, no therapy is yet available for the more common dry form, also known as geographic atrophy. We analysed the retinal tissue in a mouse model of retinal degeneration caused by sodium iodate (NaIO3)-induced retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) atrophy to understand the underlying pathology. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), qRT-PCR, Western blot, immunohistochemistry of the retinas and multiplex ELISA of the mouse serum were applied to find the pathways involved in the degeneration. NaIO3 caused patchy RPE loss and thinning of the photoreceptor layer. This was accompanied by the increased retinal expression of complement components c1s, c3, c4, cfb and cfh. C1s, C3, CFH and CFB were complement proteins, with enhanced deposition at day 3. C4 was upregulated in retinal degeneration at day 10. Consistently, the transcript levels of proinflammatory ccl-2, -3, -5, il-1β, il-33 and tgf-β were increased in the retinas of NaIO3 mice, but vegf-a mRNA was reduced. Macrophages, microglia and gliotic Müller cells could be a cellular source for local retinal inflammatory changes in the NaIO3 retina. Systemic complement and cytokines/chemokines remained unaltered in this model of NaIO3-dependent retinal degeneration. In conclusion, systemically administered NaIO3 promotes degenerative and inflammatory processes in the retina, which can mimic the hallmarks of geographic atrophy.