Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.516, No.2, 350-356, 2019
RANKL blockade suppresses pathological angiogenesis and vascular leakage in ischemic retinopathy
Receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand (RANKL) is a member of the TNF superfamily. RANKL increases endothelial permeability and induces angiogenesis, suggesting its critical roles in the vasculature. Despite the evidence implicating RANKL in vascular pathology, its role in ischemic retinopathy has not been previously reported. In this study, neonatal mice were exposed to 75% oxygen from postnatal day (P)7 to P12 to induce vaso-obliteration, and then returned to room air from P12 to P17, causing the retina to become hypoxic and inducing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling, which produces pathological neovascularization. On P12, the mice received a single intravitreal injection of control IgG1 or RANK-Fc, and retinas were obtained at P17. On P17, RANKL was expressed strongly and selectively in the neovascular tufts (NVT) area. RANKL colocalized with alpha SMA or PDGFR beta in NVT. However, co-immunostaining revealed that CD31-positive areas were not the same as RANKL, which indicates that RANKL might be produced by retinal pericytes, not endothelial cells. Consistent with this finding, chemical hypoxia upregulated RANKL expression in cultured human retinal pericytes but not in endothelial cells. Treatment with RANK-Fc markedly reduced the NVT area compared to that in mice administered the IgG1 injection. In contrast, the central avascular region of RANKL-Fc retina was comparable to the controls. In addition, we assessed retinal vascular permeability using FITC-labeled dextran. RANK-Fc treated mice displayed decreased vascular leakages compared to those injected with IgG1. Our work supports the use of an RANKL blockade as a potential therapeutic approach against ischemic retinopathies. (C) 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.