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The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Suppression of microglial activation is neuroprotective in a mouse model of human retinitis pigmentosa.


PMID 24920619

Abstract

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a photoreceptor-degenerative disease caused by various mutations and is characterized by death of rod photoreceptor cell followed by gradual death of cone photoreceptors. The molecular mechanisms that lead to rod and cone death are not yet fully understood. Neuroinflammation contributes to the progression of many chronic neurodegenerative disorders. However, it remains to be determined how microglia contribute to photoreceptor disruption in RP. In this study, we explored the role of microglia as a contributor to photoreceptor degeneration in the rd10 mouse model of RP. First, we demonstrated that microglia activation was an early alteration in RP retinas. Inhibition of microglia activation by minocycline reduced photoreceptor apoptosis and significantly improved retinal structure and function and visual behavior in rd10 mice. Second, we identified that minocycline exerted its neuroprotective effects through both anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic mechanisms. Third, we found that Cx3cr1 deficiency dysregulated microglia activation and subsequently resulted in increased photoreceptor vulnerability in rd10 mice, suggesting that the Cx3cl1/Cx3cr1 signaling pathway might protect against microglia neurotoxicity. We concluded that suppression of neuroinflammatory responses could be a potential treatment strategy aimed at improving photoreceptor survival in human RP.