Diminished apoptosis in hypoxic porcine retina explant cultures through hypothermia
Simulation of hypoxic processes in vitro can be achieved through cobalt chloride (CoCl2), which induces strong neurodegeneration. Hypoxia plays an important role in the progression of several retinal diseases. Thus, we investigated whether hypoxia can be reduced by hypothermia. Porcine retinal explants were cultivated for four and eight days and hypoxia was mimicked by adding 300 µM CoCl2 from day one to day three. Hypothermia treatment (30 °C) was applied simultaneously. Retinal ganglion, bipolar and amacrine cells, as well as microglia were evaluated via immunohistological and western blot analysis. Furthermore, quantitative real-time PCR was performed to analyze cellular stress and apoptosis. In addition, the expression of specific marker for the previously described cell types were investigated. A reduction of ROS and stress markers HSP70, iNOS, HIF-1α was achieved via hypothermia. In accordance, an inhibition of apoptotic proteins (caspase 3, caspase 8) and the cell cycle arrest gene p21 was found in hypothermia treated retinae. Furthermore, neurons of the inner retina were protected by hypothermia. In this study, we demonstrate that hypothermia lowers hypoxic processes and cellular stress. Additionally, hypothermia inhibits apoptosis and protects neurons. Hence, this seems to be a promising treatment for retinal neurodegeneration.