Induction of protective response with heat treatment shown in mouse RPE

The paper explores a new laser-induced heat treatment method for the retina, focusing on inducing a protective response in the retinal pigment epithelium of mice. This method uses laser heat to trigger the production of Heat Shock Protein 70, a vital protein for cellular protection. The study shows this approach could be a promising new way to treat retinal diseases by harnessing the body’s natural defense mechanisms, offering a potential advancement in the field of retinal therapy.

Amirkavei, M. et al. Induction of Heat Shock Protein 70 in Mouse RPE as an In Vivo Model of Transpupillary Thermal Stimulation. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 21, (2020). DOI: 10.3390/ijms21062063


The induction of heat shock response in the macula has been proposed as a useful therapeutic strategy for retinal neurodegenerative diseases by promoting proteostasis and enhancing protective chaperone mechanisms. We applied transpupillary 1064 nm long-duration laser heating to the mouse (C57Bl/6J) fundus to examine the heat shock response in vivo. The intensity and spatial distribution of heat shock protein (HSP) 70 expression along with the concomitant probability for damage were measured 24 h after laser irradiation in the mouse retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) as a function of laser power. Our results show that the range of heating powers for producing heat shock response while avoiding damage in the mouse RPE is narrow. At powers of 64 and 70 mW, HSP70 immunostaining indicates 90 and 100% probability for clearly elevated HSP expression while the corresponding probability for damage is 20 and 33%, respectively. Tunel staining identified the apoptotic regions, and the estimated 50% damaging threshold probability for the heating (ED50) was ~72 mW. The staining with Bestrophin1 (BEST1) demonstrated RPE cell atrophy with the most intense powers. Consequently, fundus heating with a long-duration laser provides an approachable method to develop heat shock-based therapies for the RPE of retinal disease model mice.

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