Cellular mechanisms of high mobility group 1 (HMGB-1) protein action in the diabetic retinopathy

Andrea Rachelle C. Santos, Galina Dvoriantchikova, Yiwen Li, Ghulam Mohammad, Ahmed M. Abu El-Asrar, Rong Wen, Dmitry Ivanov

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28 Scopus citations


Diabetic retinopathy is one of the main microvascular complications of diabetes and remains one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. Recent studies have revealed an important role of inflammatory and proangiogenic high mobility group 1 (HMGB-1) cytokine in diabetic retinopathy. To elucidate cellular mechanisms of HMGB-1 activity in the retina, we performed this study. The histological features of diabetic retinopathy include loss of blood-vessel pericytes and endothelial cells, as well as abnormal new blood vessel growth. To establish the role of HMGB-1 in vulnerability of endothelial cells and pericytes, cultures of these cells, or co-cultures with glial cells, were treated with HMGB-1 and assessed for survival after 24 hours. The expression levels of the cytokines, chemokines, and cell adhesion molecules in glial and endothelial cells were tested by quantitative RT-PCR to evaluate changes in these cells after HMGB-1 treatment. Animal models of neovascularization were also used to study the role of HMGB-1 in the retina. We report that pericyte death is mediated by HMGB-1-induced cytotoxic activity of glial cells, while HMGB-1 can directly mediate death of endothelial cells. We also found that HMGB-1 affects endothelial cell activity. However, we did not observe a difference in the levels of neovascularization between HMGB-1-treated eyes compared to the control eyes, nor in the levels of proangiogenic cytokine VEGF-A expression between glial cells treated with HMGB-1 and control cells. Our data also indicate that HMGB-1 is not involved in retinal neovascularization in the oxygen-induced retinopathy model. Thus, our data suggest that retinal pericyte and endothelial injury and death in diabetic retinopathy may be due to HMGB-1-induced cytotoxic activity of glial cells as well as the direct effect of HMGB-1 on endothelial cells. At the same time, our findings indicate that HMGB-1 plays an insignificant role in retinal and choroidal neovascularization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere87574
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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