Purpose: This study aimed to evaluate the effects of endostatin on tight junction (TJ) integrity in retinal microvascular endothelial cells (RMECs) in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, it was hypothesized that endostatin-induced occludin upregulation regulated VEGF₁₆₅-mediated increases in endothelial cell permeability and involved activation of the MAPK signaling cascade. Endostatin is a 20-kDa fragment of collagen XVIII that has been shown to be efficacious in the eye by preventing retinal neovascularization. Endostatin is a specific inhibitor of endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis and has been reported to reverse VEGF-mediated increases in vasopermeability and to promote integrity of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB). In order to determine the mechanism of endostatin action on BRB integrity, we have examined the effects of endostatin on a number of intracellular pathways implicated in endothelial cell physiology. Methods: C57/Bl6 mice were injected with VEGF₁₆₅ and/or endostatin, and the distribution of occludin staining was determined using retinal flatmounts. Western blot analysis of RMECs treated with VEGF₁₆₅ and/or endostatin was used to determine changes in occludin expression and p38 MAPK and extracellular regulated kinase (ERK1/ERK2 MAPK) activation, while FD-4 flux across the RMEC monolayer was used to determine changes in paracellular permeability. Results: Endostatin prevented the discontinuous pattern of occludin staining observed at the retinal blood vessels of mice administered an intraocular injection of VEGF₁₆₅. It was shown that endostatin activated p38 MAPK 5 min after addition to RMECs and continued to do so for approximately 30 min. Endostatin was also shown to activate ERK1/ERK2 5 min after addition and continued to do so, albeit with less potency, up to and including 15 min after addition. Inhibition of p38 MAPK and ERK1/ERK2 prevented endostatin's ability to upregulate levels of occludin expression. Inhibition of these key signaling molecules was shown to prevent endostatin's ability to protect against VEGF₁₆₅-mediated increases in paracellular permeability in vitro. However, it appears that p38 MAPK may play a more important role in VEGF-mediated permeability, as inhibition of ERK1/ERK2 will not prevent VEGF₁₆₅-mediated permeability compared with control (untreated) cells or cells treated with both a p38 MAPK inhibitor and VEGF ₁₆₅. Conclusions: Occludin is important for the maintenance of tight junction integrity in vivo. In a p38 MAPK and ERK1/ERK2 dependent manner, endostatin was shown to upregulate the levels of expression of the tight junction protein occludin. Inhibition of these key MAPK components may prevent endostatin's ability to decrease VEGF₁₆₅-induced paracellular permeability.
- Blood-retinal barrier
- p38 MAPK
- Tight junctions
Campbell, M. P., Collery, R., McEvoy, A., Gardiner, T. A., Stitt, A. W., & Brankin, B. (2006). Involvement of MAPKs in endostatin-mediated regulation of blood-retinal barrier function. Current Eye Research, 31(12), 1033-1045. https://doi.org/10.1080/02713680601013025