Purpose: Retinal nitrosative stress associated with altered expression of nitric oxide synthases (NOS) plays an important role in excitotoxic retinal ganglion cell loss in glaucoma. The present study evaluated the effects of magnesium acetyltaurate (MgAT) on changes induced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) in the retinal expression of three NOS isoforms, retinal 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) levels, and the extent of retinal cell apoptosis in rats. Effects of MgAT with taurine (TAU) alone were compared to understand the benefits of a combined salt of Mg and TAU.
Methods: Excitotoxic retinal injury was induced with intravitreal injection of NMDA in Sprague-Dawley rats. All treatments were given as pre-, co-, and post-treatment with NMDA. Seven days post-injection, the retinas were processed for measurement of the expression of NOS isoforms using immunostaining and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), retinal 3-NT content using ELISA, retinal histopathological changes using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining, and retinal cell apoptosis using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) staining.
Results: As observed on immunohistochemistry, the treatment with NMDA caused a 4.53-fold increase in retinal nNOS expression compared to the PBS-treated rats (p<0.001). Among the MgAT-treated groups, only the pretreatment group showed significantly lower nNOS expression than the NMDA-treated group with a 2.00-fold reduction (p<0.001). Among the TAU-treated groups, the pre- and cotreatment groups showed 1.84- and 1.71-fold reduction in nNOS expression compared to the NMDA-treated group (p<0.001), respectively, but remained higher compared to the PBS-treated group (p<0.01). Similarly, iNOS expression in the NMDA-treated group was significantly greater than that for the PBS-treated group (2.68-fold; p<0.001). All MgAT treatment groups showed significantly lower iNOS expression than the NMDA-treated groups (3.58-, 1.51-, and 1.65-folds, respectively). However, in the MgAT co- and post-treatment groups, iNOS expression was significantly greater than in the PBS-treated group (1.77- and 1.62-folds, respectively). Pretreatment with MgAT caused 1.77-fold lower iNOS expression compared to pretreatment with TAU (p<0.05). In contrast, eNOS expression was 1.63-fold higher in the PBS-treated group than in the NMDA-treated group (p<0.001). Among all treatment groups, only pretreatment with MgAT caused restoration of retinal eNOS expression with a 1.39-fold difference from the NMDA-treated group (p<0.05). eNOS expression in the MgAT pretreatment group was also 1.34-fold higher than in the TAU pretreatment group (p<0.05). The retinal NOS expression as measured with ELISA was in accordance with that estimated with immunohistochemistry. Accordingly, among the MgAT treatment groups, only the pretreated group showed 1.47-fold lower retinal 3-NT than the NMDA-treated group, and the difference was significant (p<0.001). The H&E-stained retinal sections in all treatment groups showed statistically significantly greater numbers of retinal cell nuclei than the NMDA-treated group in the inner retina. However, the ganglion cell layer thickness in the TAU pretreatment group remained 1.23-fold lower than that in the MgAT pretreatment group (p<0.05). In line with this observation, the number of apoptotic cells as observed after TUNEL staining was 1.69-fold higher after pretreatment with TAU compared to pretreatment with MgAT (p<0.01).
Conclusions: MgAT and TAU, particularly with pretreatment, reduce retinal cell apoptosis by reducing retinal nitrosative stress. Pretreatment with MgAT caused greater improvement in NMDA-induced changes in iNOS and eNOS expression and retinal 3-NT levels than pretreatment with TAU. The greater reduction in retinal nitrosative stress after pretreatment with MgAT was associated with lower retinal cell apoptosis and greater preservation of the ganglion cell layer thickness compared to pretreatment with TAU.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.