Purpose: To test the hypothesis that autophagy dysfunction is involved in exfoliation syndrome (XFS), a systemic disorder of extracellular elastic matrices that causes a distinct form of human glaucoma. Methods: Fibroblasts derived from tenon tissue discards (TFs) from filtration surgery to relieve intraocular pressure in XFS patients were compared against age-matched TFs derived from surgery in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients or from strabismus surgery. Differential interference contrast light, and electron microscopy were used to examine structural cell features. Immunocytochemistry was used to visualize LOXL1 and Fibulin-5, lysosomes, endosomes, Golgi, and microtubules. Light scatter, Cyto-ID™ and JC1 flow cytometry were used to measure relative cell size, autophagic flux rate and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMPT), respectively. Enhanced autophagy was induced by serum withdrawal. Results: In culture, XFS-TFs were 1.38-fold larger (by light scatter ratio, p = 0.05), proliferated 42% slower (p = 0.026), and were morphologically distinct in 2D and 3D culture compared to their POAG counterparts. In extended 3D cultures, XFS-TFs accumulated 8-10 times more Fibulin-5 than the POAG-TFs, and upon serum withdrawal, there were marked deficiencies in relocation of endosomes and lysosomes to the perinuclear area. Correspondingly, the XFS-TFs displayed significant accumulation of the autophagasome marker LC3 II (3.9 fold increase compared to POAG levels, p = 0.0001) and autophagic flux rate as measured by Cyto-ID dye was 53% lower in XFS-TFs than in POAG-TFs (p = 0.01), indicating reduced clearance of autophagasomes. Finally the percent of cells with diminished MMPT was 3-8 times larger in the XFS-TFs than in POAG-TFs (p = 0.02). Conclusions: Our results provide for the first time a link between XFS pathology to autophagy dysfunction, a major contributor tomultiple age related diseases systemically throughout the body, in the brain and in the retina. A diminished capacity for degradation of denatured protein and aging cellular organelles may underpin the development of extracellular protein aggregates in XFS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)