To investigate the mechanism by which resveratrol acts upon retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and to characterize its effect upon autophagy, survival, and inflammation, with consequent implications to treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: Cultured ARPE-19 cells were exposed to 10 and 50 μM resveratrol. Cell survival/death was determined by annexin-FITC/propidium iodide using flow cytometry, while autophagy was studied by detecting autophagic vacuoles formation (acridine orange and transmission electron microscopy), as well as LC3II/I ratio and p62 expression by Western blot. In addition, time-lapse confocal microscopy of a pDENDRA-LC3 expression vector was performed to detect autophagy in transfected ARPE-19 cells under the different treatment conditions. Inhibition of proteasomal and autophagy-lysosomal fusion was carried out by MG-132 and chloroquine, respectively, while induction of autophagy was achieved by rapamycin treatment. Detection of secreted cytokines by ARPE-19 cells using Human XL Cytokine Array was performed under oxidative stress (H2
) and resveratrol treatments, respectively. Results: Resveratrol induced autophagy in ARPE-19 cells as determined by augmented presence of autophagic vacuoles, increased LC3II/I ratio and decreased p62 expression, as well as time-lapse confocal microscopy using pDENDRA-LC3 expression vector. Resveratrol acted similarly to proteasomal inhibition and downstream of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), since upstream inhibition of autophagy by 3-methyladenine could not inhibit autophagy in ARPE-19 cells. Co-treatmeant by rapamycin and/or proteasome inhibition showed no additive effect upon autophagy induction. ARPE-19 cells treated by resveratrol showed lower cell death rate compared to untreated controls. Resveratrol induced a specific anti-inflammatory response in ARPE-19 cells. Conclusions: Resveratrol can induce autophagy, pro-survival, and anti-inflammatory stimuli in ARPE-19 cells, properties which could be plausible to formulate future treatment modalities for AMD.
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