Photoreceptor degeneration is characteristic of vision-threatening diseases including age-related macular degeneration. Photoreceptors are metabolically demanding cells in the retina, but specific details about their metabolic behaviours are unresolved. The quantitative metabolomics of retinal degeneration could provide valuable insights and inform future therapies. Here, we determined the metabolomic ‘fingerprint’ of healthy and dystrophic retinas in rat models using optimized metabolite extraction techniques. A number of classes of metabolites were consistently dysregulated during degeneration: vitamin A analogues, fatty acid amides, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, acyl carnitines and several phospholipid species. For the first time, a distinct temporal trend of several important metabolites including DHA (4Z,7Z,10Z,13Z,16Z,19Z-docosahexaenoic acid), all-trans-retinal and its toxic end-product N-retinyl-N-retinylidene-ethanolamine were observed between healthy and dystrophic retinas. In this study, metabolomics was further used to determine the temporal effects of the therapeutic intervention of grafting stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in dystrophic retinas, which significantly prevented photoreceptor atrophy in our previous studies. The result revealed that lipid levels such as phosphatidylethanolamine in eyes were restored in those animals receiving the RPE grafts. In conclusion, this study provides insight into the metabolomics of retinal degeneration, and further understanding of the efficacy of RPE transplantation.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Quantitative mass spectrometry’.
One contribution of 19 to a theme issue ‘Quantitative mass spectrometry’.
- Accepted February 17, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.