Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas de Bahía Blanca (INIBIBB), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), 8000, Bahía, Blanca, Argentina; Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia (DBByF), Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS), 8000, Bahía, Blanca, Argentina. Electronic address: [Email]
Chronic hyperglycemia, oxidative stress and inflammation are key players in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy (DR). In this work we study the role of phospholipase D (PLD) pathway in an in vitro model of high glucose (HG)-induced damage. To this end, we exposed human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cell lines (ARPE-19 and D407) to HG concentrations (16.5 or 33 mM) or to normal glucose concentration (NG, 5.5 mM) for 4, 24 or 72 h. Exposure to HG increased reactive oxygen species levels and caspase-3 cleavage and reduced cell viability after 72 h of incubation. In addition, short term HG exposure (4 h) induced the activation of early events, that involve PLD and ERK1/2 signaling, nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) nuclear translocation and IκB phosphorylation. The increment in pro-inflammatory interleukins (IL-6 and IL-8) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) mRNA levels was observed after 24 h of HG exposure. The effect of selective pharmacological PLD1 (VU0359595) and PLD2 (VU0285655-1) inhibitors demonstrated that ERK1/2 and NFκB activation were downstream events of both PLD isoforms. The increment in IL-6 and COX-2 mRNA levels induced by HG was reduced to control levels in cells pre-incubated with both PLD inhibitors. Furthermore, the inhibition of PLD1, PLD2 and MEK/ERK pathway prevented the loss of cell viability and the activation of caspase-3 induced by HG. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that PLD1 and PLD2 mediate the inflammatory response triggered by HG in RPE cells, pointing to their potential use as a therapeutic target for DR treatment.