Mitochondrial complex i defect induces ROS release and degeneration in trabecular meshwork cells of POAG patients: Protection by antioxidants

Yuan He, Kar Wah Leung, Yue Hong Zhang, Shan Duan, Xiu Feng Zhong, Ru Zhang Jiang, Zhan Peng, Joyce Tombran-Tink, Jian Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Purpose. There is growing evidence that oxidative stress contributes to the progression of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. The authors provide evidence that mitochondrial dysfunction is a possible mechanism for the loss of trabecular meshwork (TM) cells in persons with POAG. Methods. TM from patients with POAG (GTM) and age-matched subjects without disease (NTM) were obtained by standard surgical trabeculectomy. Primary TM cultures were treated with one of the following mitochondrial respiratory chain inhibitors: rotenone (ROT, complex I inhibitor), thenoyl-trifluoroacetone (TTFA, complex II inhibitor), myxothiazol or antimycin A (MYX, AM-complex III inhibitors); mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) inhibitor cyclosporine A (CsA); and antioxidants vitamin E (Vit E) or N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Mitochondrial function was determined by changes in mito-chondrial membrane potential (δψm) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production with the fluorescent probes 5,5′6,6′ tetrachloro-1,1′ 3,3′-tetraethylbenzimid azolocarbocyanine iodide (JC-1) and a luciferin/luciferase-based ATP assay, respectively. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) level, determined by H 2-DCF-DA, and cell death' measured by lactate dehydrogenase activity and Annexin V-FITC labeling, were also examined. Results. GTM cells have higher endogenous ROS levels, lower ATP levels, and decreased Aψm and they are more sensitive to mitochondrial complex I inhibition than their normal counterparts. ROT induces a further increase in ROS production, the release of cytochrome c and decreases in ATP level and δψm in GTM cells, eventually leading to apoptosis. Complex II and III inhibition had little effect on the cells. Antioxidants protect against ROT-induced death by inhibiting ROS generation and cytochrome c release. Conclusions. The authors propose that a mitochondrial complex I defect is associated with the degeneration of TM cells in patients with POAG, and antioxidants and MPT inhibitors can reduce the progression of this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1458
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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