The Journal of biological chemistry

Oxidative stress sensitizes retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells to complement-mediated injury in a natural antibody-, lectin pathway-, and phospholipid epitope-dependent manner.

PMID 23493397


Uncontrolled activation of the alternative complement pathway (AP) is thought to be associated with age-related macular degeneration. Previously, we have shown that in retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) monolayers, oxidative stress reduced complement inhibition on the cell surface, resulting in sublytic complement activation and loss of transepithelial resistance (TER), but the potential ligand and pathway involved are unknown. ARPE-19 cells were grown as monolayers on transwell plates, and sublytic complement activation was induced with H2O2 and normal human serum. TER deteriorated rapidly in H2O2-exposed monolayers upon adding normal human serum. Although the effect required AP activation, AP was not sufficient, because elimination of MASP, but not C1q, prevented TER reduction. Reconstitution experiments to unravel essential components of the lectin pathway (LP) showed that both ficolin and mannan-binding lectin can activate the LP through natural IgM antibodies (IgM-C2) that recognize phospholipid cell surface modifications on oxidatively stressed RPE cells. The same epitopes were found on human primary embryonic RPE monolayers. Likewise, mouse laser-induced choroidal neovascularization, an injury that involves LP activation, could be increased in antibody-deficient rag1(-/-) mice using the phospholipid-specific IgM-C2. In summary, using a combination of depletion and reconstitution strategies, we have shown that the LP is required to initiate the complement cascade following natural antibody recognition of neoepitopes, which is then further amplified by the AP. LP activation is triggered by IgM bound to phospholipids. Taken together, we have defined novel mechanisms of complement activation in oxidatively stressed RPE, linking molecular events involved in age-related macular degeneration, including the presence of natural antibodies and neoepitopes.

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C1740 Complement component C1q from human serum, ≥95% (SDS-PAGE)