Aging, chronic oxidative stress, and inflammation are major pathogenic factors in the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with the loss of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The human RPE contains a subpopulation of progenitors (i.e., RPE stem cells—RPESCs) whose role in the RPE homeostasis is under investigation. We evaluated the paracrine effects of mature RPE cells exposed to oxidative stress (H2O2) on RPESCs behavior through co-cultural, morphofunctional, and bioinformatic approaches. RPESCs showed a decline in proliferation, an increase of the senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity, the acquisition of a senescent-like secretory phenotype (SASP), and the reduction of their stemness and differentiation competencies. IL-6 and Superoxide Dismutase 2 (SOD2) seem to be key molecules in RPESCs response to oxidative stress. Our results get insight into stress-induced senescent-associated molecular mechanisms implicated in AMD pathogenesis. The presence of chronic oxidative stress in the microenvironment reduces the RPESCs abilities, inducing and/or maintaining a pro-inflammatory retinal milieu that in turn could affect AMD onset and progression.
Oxidative stress in retinal pigment epithelium impairs stem cells: a vicious cycle in age-related macular degeneration / Lazzarini, R.; Nicolai, M.; Lucarini, G.; Pirani, V.; Mariotti, C.; Bracci, M.; Mattioli-Belmonte, M.. - In: MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOCHEMISTRY. - ISSN 0300-8177. - STAMPA. - 477:1(2022), pp. 67-77. [10.1007/s11010-021-04258-3]