CTGF is increased in basal deposits and regulates matrix production through the ERK (p42/p44mapk) MAPK and the p38 MAPK signaling pathways

Norihiro Nagai, Alena Klimava, Wen-Hsiang Lee, Kanako Izumi-Nagai, James T Handa
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2009, 50 (4): 1903-10

PURPOSE: Matrix expansion is an early change in age-related maculopathy. The aim of this study was to determine whether connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) regulates the production of extracellular matrix components by retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells.

METHODS: ARPE-19 cells were treated with CTGF and analyzed for fibronectin, laminin, and MMP-2 by RT-qPCR, Western blot analysis, or zymography. Cells were also pretreated with an MEK-1/2 inhibitor (PD98059) or a p38 inhibitor (SB203580) and an anti-CTGF antibody to analyze the signaling contributing to fibronectin, laminin, and MMP-2 production. Human maculas were analyzed for mRNA using laser capture microdissected RPE cells and by immunohistochemistry for the topographic distribution of CTGF.

RESULTS: CTGF induced fibronectin mRNA (P=0.006) and protein (P=0.006), and laminin mRNA (P=0.006) and protein (P=0.02) by ARPE-19 cells. CTGF also induced MMP-2 mRNA (P=0.002) and protein secretion (P=0.04). Using zymography, CTGF increased the latent and active forms of MMP-2 compared to controls (P=0.02). An anti-CTGF antibody inhibited fibronectin, laminin, and MMP-2 after CTGF stimulation. CTGF increased the phosphorylation of p38 and ERK1/2. Fibronectin and MMP-2 mRNA and protein were suppressed by a MEK-1/2 inhibitor, but not with a p38 inhibitor. Laminin expression was suppressed by both inhibitors. RT-qPCR analysis showed that macular RPE cells from human donors express CTGF. Immunohistochemistry of human maculas showed strong labeling of CTGF in Bruch membrane, including basal deposits and drusen.

CONCLUSIONS: CTGF is increased in basal deposits and drusen of AMD specimens, and it induces matrix protein production in ARPE-19 cells through the ERK (p42/p44(mapk)) and p38(mapk) signaling pathways.

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