Caruso G, Fresta CG, Fidilio A, Lazzara F, Musso N, Cardaci V, Drago F, Caraci F, Bucolo C. Carnosine Counteracts the Molecular Alterations Aβ Oligomers-Induced in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. Molecules. 2023 Apr 9;28(8):3324.

Pubmed: doi: 10.3390/molecules28083324.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been described as a progressive eye disease characterized by irreversible impairment of central vision, and unfortunately, an effective treatment is still not available. It is well-known that amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide is one of the major culprits in causing neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The extracellular accumulation of this peptide has also been found in drusen which lies under the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and represents one of the early signs of AMD pathology. Aβ aggregates, especially in the form of oligomers, are able to induce pro-oxidant (oxidative stress) and pro-inflammatory phenomena in RPE cells. ARPE-19 is a spontaneously arising human RPE cell line validated for drug discovery processes in AMD. In the present study, we employed ARPE-19 treated with Aβ oligomers, representing an in vitro model of AMD. We used a combination of methods, including ATPlite, quantitative real-time PCR, immunocytochemistry, as well as a fluorescent probe for reactive oxygen species to investigate the molecular alterations induced by Aβ oligomers. In particular, we found that Aβ exposure decreased the cell viability of ARPE-19 cells which was paralleled by increased inflammation (increased expression of pro-inflammatory mediators) and oxidative stress (increased expression of NADPH oxidase and ROS production) along with the destruction of ZO-1 tight junction protein. Once the damage was clarified, we investigated the therapeutic potential of carnosine, an endogenous dipeptide that is known to be reduced in AMD patients. Our findings demonstrate that carnosine was able to counteract most of the molecular alterations induced by the challenge of ARPE-19 with Aβ oligomers. These new findings obtained with ARPE-19 cells challenged with Aβ1-42 oligomers, along with the well-demonstrated multimodal mechanism of action of carnosine both in vitro and in vivo, able to prevent and/or counteract the dysfunctions elicited by Aβ oligomers, substantiate the neuroprotective potential of this dipeptide in the context of AMD pathology.