Detrimental effects of UVB on retinal pigment epithelial cells and its role in age-related macular degeneration

Camille Keisha Mahendra, Loh Teng Hern Tan, Priyia Pusparajah, Thet Thet Htar, Lay Hong Chuah, Vannajan Sanghiran Lee, Liang Ee Low, Siah Ying Tang, Kok Gan Chan, Bey Hing Goh

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are an essential part of the human eye because they not only mediate and control the transfer of fluids and solutes but also protect the retina against photooxidative damage and renew photoreceptor cells through phagocytosis. However, their function necessitates cumulative exposure to the sun resulting in UV damage, which may lead to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Several studies have shown that UVB induces direct DNA damage and oxidative stress in RPE cells by increasing ROS and dysregulating endogenous antioxidants. Activation of different signaling pathways connected to inflammation, cell cycle arrest, and intrinsic apoptosis was reported as well. Besides that, essential functions like phagocytosis, osmoregulation, and water permeability of RPE cells were also affected. Although the melanin within RPE cells can act as a photoprotectant, this photoprotection decreases with age. Nevertheless, the changes in lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF) and autophagic activity or application of bioactive compounds from natural products can reverse the detrimental effect of UVB. Additionally, in vivo studies on the whole retina demonstrated that UVB irradiation induces gene and protein level dysregulation, indicating cellular stress and aberrations in the chromosome level. Morphological changes like retinal depigmentation and drusen formation were noted as well which is similar to the etiology of AMD, suggesting the connection of UVB damage with AMD. Therefore, future studies, which include mechanism studies via in vitro or in vivo and other potential bioactive compounds, should be pursued for a better understanding of the involvement of UVB in AMD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1904178
Number of pages29
JournalOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2020

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