Data_Sheet_1_Autoimmune-Mediated Retinopathy in CXCR5-Deficient Mice as the Result of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Associated Proteins Accumulation.docx

Previous research has shown that CXCR5−/− mice develop retinal degeneration (RD) with age, a characteristic related to age macular degeneration (AMD). RD in these mice is not well-understood, and in this study, we sought to characterize further the RD phenotype and to gain mechanistic insights into the function of CXCR5 in the retina. CXCR5−/− and WT control mice were used. Fundus images demonstrated a significant (p < 0.001) increase of hypo-pigmented spots in the retina of aged CXCR5−/− mice compared with WT control mice. PAS staining indicated localization of deposits in the sub-retinal pigment epithelia (RPE) layer. AMD-associated proteins Cryab, amyloid beta, and C3d were detected within the RPE/sub-RPE tissues by immunofluorescence (IF). In addition, western blot analysis of COX-2, Arg1, and VEGF-a revealed an increase in the signaling of these molecules within the RPE/choroid complex. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) indicated a drusen-like structure of sub-RPE deposits with an accumulation of vacuolated cellular debris. Loss of photoreceptors was detected by peanut lectin staining and was corroborated by a reduction in MAP2 signaling. Loss of blood-retinal barrier integrity was demonstrated by a reduction of ZO-1 expression. Inflammatory cells were detected in the sub-RPE space, with an increase in IBA-1 positive microglia cells on the surface of the RPE. Mass spectrometry analysis of CXCR5−/− mouse RPE/choroid proteins extracts, separated by SDS-page and incubated with autologous serum, identified autoantibodies against AMD-associated proteins: Cryaa, Cryab, and Anxa2. In vitro evaluations in BV-2 cell culture indicated a significant increase in production of Arg-1 (p < 0.001) and COX-2 (p < 0.01) in the presence of anti-CXCR5 antibody when compared with Igg-treated control BV-2 cells stimulated with IL-4 and TNFα/IFNγ, respectively. Anti-CXCR5 antibody treatment without stimulating agents did not affect Arg-1 and COX-2 expression; this suggests that CXCR5 may have a regulatory role in microglia cells activation. These results indicate that with age, CXCR5−/− mice develop RD characterized by microglia dysfunction, increased production of CXCL13 in the RPE progressive photoreceptor, neuronal loss, and sub-RPE deposition of cellular debris, resulting in the production of immunogenic proteins and autoimmune-mediated RD.