p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase-induced nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cell activity is required for neuroprotection in retinal ischemia/reperfusion injury

Shao-Yun Jiang, Yuan-Yuan Zou, Jian-Tao Wang
Molecular Vision 2012, 18: 2096-106

PURPOSE: In our previous study, nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) played a neuroprotective role in retinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in rats. However, the mechanism of NF-κB neuroprotection is still unclear. We hypothesize that p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is expressed and NF-κB activity induced by p38 MAPK plays a neuroprotective role through antiapoptotic genes (B-cell lymphoma [Bcl]-2 and Bcl-XL) in retinal cells in retinal I/R injury.

METHODS: Retinal ischemia was induced by elevating intraocular pressure in rats. After retinal I/R, the p38 MAPK, NF-κB p65, Bcl-2, and Bcl-XL mRNA levels were measured with real-time polymerase chain reaction. NF-κB p65 activity was assessed with NF-κB enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in retinal I/R injury and after application of the p38 MAPK inhibitor (SB203580). Furthermore, SB203580 and NF-κB p65 short interfering RNA (siRNA) were used in retinal I/R injury to examine the effects on Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL levels and nucleosome release in the retina and cell survival in the ganglion cell layer.

RESULTS: The mRNA levels of NF-κB p65 and p38 MAPK reached a peak at 6 h after retinal I/R and then decreased gradually. The mRNA levels of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL significantly increased at 2, 4, and 6 h, peaked at 8 h, and decreased gradually, but remained at a higher level compared with the normal control, which was accompanied by an increase in NF-κB p65 in nuclear extracts. After application of SB203580, the increase in the NF-κB p65 levels in the nucleus induced with I/R was completely abolished, and the mRNA expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL decreased significantly compared with the I/R controls. In addition, NF-κB p65 siRNA inhibited Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL expression. Inhibition of the p38 MAPK-NF-κB pathway (using SB203580 or NF-κB p65 siRNA) increased retinal nucleosome release and decreased the number of ganglion cells.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide evidence of crosstalk between p38 MAPK and NF-κB p65 and demonstrate a possible neuroprotective role for the p38 MAPK-NF-κB pathway through Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL in retinal I/R injury in rats.

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