Overexpression of FasL in retinal pigment epithelial cells reduces choroidal neovascularization.FASEB J. 2006 Aug; 20(10):1689-91.FJ
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is responsible for the severe visual loss in age-related macular degeneration. CNV formation is considered to be due to an imbalance between pro- and antiangiogenic factors that lead to neovascular growth from the choriocapillaris into the subretinal space. To define whether FasL overexpression in retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) can inhibit choroidal neovascularization through Fas-FasL-mediated apoptosis, we examined the role of this pathway in a mouse model of laser-induced choroidal neovascularization. FasL was expressed in the retinal pigment epithelium of transgenic mice. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunoblot, and immunohistochemistry confirmed that the transgene FasL was specifically expressed in RPE. The established laser model was used to induce choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in wild-type (WT) and transgenic mice. CNV formation was compared with respect to fluorescein angiographic leakage (at days 0 and 14 after laser injury) and histological appearance. The lesions were assessed on RPE-choroidal flatmounts after CD31-labeling and with confocal microscopy after perfusion with rhodamine-labeled concanavalin A (Con A). Apoptosis was quantified by TUNEL positivity and caspase activation. FasL mRNA and protein were highly expressed in the RPE of the transgenic mice before and after laser photocoagulation. In contrast, FasL was only weakly expressed in the RPE layer of WT C57BL/6J mice. While ruptures of Bruch's membrane and CNV formation were observed histologically two weeks after laser photocoagulation in transgenic as well as control eyes, the shape and size of CNV lesions were reduced in the transgenic mice. The area of leakage was decreased by 70% in FasL transgenic mice compared with WT mice (P<0.005). The number of TUNEL-positive cells was greater in FasL-overexpressing mice and correlated with the expression of activated caspases. Th expression of other antiangiogenic factors such as PEDF remained unchanged. The specific overexpression of FasL in RPE layer reduced CNV formation in our laser model. Our results strongly point to the FasL-Fas pathway as a potential therapeutic target in controlling pathological choroidal neovascularization.