NLRX1 increases human retinal pigment epithelial autophagy and reduces H2O2-induced oxidative stress and inflammation by suppressing FUNDC1 phosphorylation and NLRP3 activation

Main Article Content

Qian Wang
Fengying He
Liping Wu


age-related macular degeneration, autophagy, FUNDC1, Inflammation, NLRX1, NLRP3, inflammasome, oxidative stress


Background: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of impaired vision as well as some earlier effects, such as reading and face recognition. Oxidative damage and inflammation of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are major causes of AMD. Additionally, autophagy in RPE cells can lead to cellular homeostasis under oxidative stress. Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor X1 (NLRX1) is a mysterious modulator of the immune system function which inhibits inflammatory response, attenuates reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and regulates autophagy. This study attempted to explore the role of NLRX1 in oxidative stress, inflammation, and autophagy in AMD.

Methods: An in vitro model of AMD was built in human retinal pigment epithelial cell line 19 (ARPE-19) treated with H2O2. The cell viability, NLRX1 expressions, levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GHS), and ROS, concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-6, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), expressions of NLRX1, p62, LC3-II/LC3-I, FUNDC1, and NOD-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome were expounded by cell counting kit-8, colorimetric, enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay (ELISA), and Western blot assay.

Results: H2O2 treatment notably reduced the relative protein expression of NLRX1. Meanwhile, H2O2 incubation decreased cell viability, diminished SOD and GSH concentrations, accompanied with the increased level of ROS, enhanced IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, and MCP-1 concentrations, and aggrandized the relative protein expression of p62 with reduced LC3-II/LC3-I ratio. Moreover, these results were further promoted with knockdown of NLRX1 and reversed with overexpression. Mechanically, silencing of NLRX1 further observably enhanced the relative levels of -phosphorylated FUNDC1/FUNDC1, and NLRP3 inflammasome-related proteins, while overexpression of NLRX1 exhibited inverse results in the H2O2-induced ARPE-19 cells.

Conclusion: NLRX1 suppressed H2O2-induced oxidative stress and inflammation, and facilitated autophagy by suppressing FUNDC1 phosphorylation and NLRP3 activation in ARPE-19 cells.

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