Increased Neuroprotective Microglia and Photoreceptor Survival in the Retina from a Peptide Inhibitor of Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 (MyD88)

Kimberly Garces, Tal Carmy, Placido Illiano, Roberta Brambilla, Abigail S. Hackam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) is an adaptor protein for the Toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin 1 receptor (IL-1R) families of innate immunity receptors that mediate inflammatory responses to cellular injury. TLR/IL1R/MyD88 signaling is known to contribute to retinal degeneration, although how MyD88 regulates neuronal survival, and the effect of MyD88 on the inflammatory environment in the retina, is mostly unknown. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that blocking MyD88-mediated signaling early in retinal degeneration promotes transition of microglia towards a neuroprotective anti-inflammatory phenotype, resulting in enhanced photoreceptor survival. We also tested whether systemic delivery of a pharmacologic MyD88 inhibitor has therapeutic potential. The rd10 mouse model of retinal degeneration was injected intraperitoneally with increasing doses of a MyD88 blocking peptide or control peptide early in degeneration, and inflammatory responses and photoreceptor survival were measured at specific time points using flow cytometry, cytokine profiling, and electroretinograms. Our results demonstrated that rd10 mice injected with a low dose of MyD88 inhibitor peptide showed increased rod photoreceptor function and reduced apoptosis compared with control peptide and uninjected mice. MyD88 inhibition also resulted in fewer microglia/macrophage cells in the photoreceptor layer whereas total peripheral and retinal macrophage were not changed. Furthermore, increased number of cells expressing the Arg1 marker of neuroprotective microglia in the photoreceptor layer and higher MCP-1 and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-27 were associated with photoreceptor survival. Therefore, these data suggest that the MyD88 inhibitor modified the retina environment to become less inflammatory, leading to improved photoreceptor function and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-980
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Microglia
  • MyD88
  • Neuroprotection
  • Retina
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Toll-like receptor (TLR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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