Neuroprotectin D1 is Synthesized in the Cone Photoreceptor Cell Line 661W and Elicits Protection Against Light-Induced Stress

Y. Kanan, W. C. Gordon, P. K. Mukherjee, N. G. Bazan, M. R. Al-Ubaidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid family member, is obtained by diet or synthesized from dietary essential omega-3 linolenic acid and delivered systemically to the choriocapillaris, from where it is taken up by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). DHA is then transported to the inner segments of photoreceptors, where it is incorporated in phospholipids during the biogenesis of outer segment disk and plasma membranes. As apical photoreceptor disks are gradually shed and phagocytized by the RPE, DHA is retrieved and recycled back to photoreceptor inner segments for reassembly into new disks. Under uncompensated oxidative stress, the docosanoid neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a potent mediator derived from DHA, is formed by the RPE and displays its bioactivity in an autocrine and paracrine fashion. The purpose of this study was to determine whether photoreceptors have the ability to synthesize NPD1, and whether or not this lipid mediator exerts bioactivity on these cells. For this purpose, 661W cells (mouse-derived photoreceptor cells) were used. First we asked whether these cells have the ability to form NPD1 by incubating cells with deuterium (d4)-labeled DHA exposed to dark and bright light treatments, followed by LC–MS/MS-based lipidomic analysis to identify and quantify d4-NPD1. The second question pertains to the potential bioactivity of these lipids. Therefore, cells were incubated with 9-cis-retinal in the presence of bright light that triggers cell damage and death. Following 9-cis-retinal loading, DHA, NPD1, or vehicle were added to the media and the 661W cells maintained either in darkness or under bright light. DHA and NPD1 were then quantified in cells and media. Regardless of lighting conditions, 661W cells acquired DHA from the media and synthesized 4–9 times as much d4-NPD1 under bright light treatment in the absence and presence of 9-cis-retinal compared to cells in darkness. Viability assays of 9-cis-retinal-treated cells demonstrated that 34 % of the cells survived without DHA or NPD1. However, after bright light exposure, DHA protected 23 % above control levels and NPD1 increased protection by 32 %. In conclusion, the photoreceptor cell line 661W has the capability to synthesize NPD1 from DHA when under stress, and, in turn, can be protected from stress-induced apoptosis by DHA or NPD1, indicating that photoreceptors effectively contribute to endogenous protective signaling mediated by NPD1 under stressful conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalCellular and molecular neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • DHA
  • Light stress
  • NPD1
  • Photoreceptors
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

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