A small molecule compound that inhibits blue light-induced retinal damage via activation of autophagy

Young Chae Shin, Sanha Lee, Hong Lan Jin, Xiang Fei, Sang Won Kang, Seung Yong Seo, Kwang Won Jeong

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Dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a type of disease that causes visual impairment due to changes in the macula located in the center of the retina. The accumulation of drusen under the retina is also a characteristic of dry AMD. In this study, we identified a compound (JS-017) that can potentially degrade N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine (A2E), one of the components of lipofuscin, using fluorescence-based screening, which measures A2E degradation in human retinal pigment epithelial cells. JS-017 effectively degraded A2E in ARPE-19 cells and consequently suppressed the activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway and expression of inflammatory and apoptosis genes induced by blue light (BL). Mechanistically, JS-017 induced LC3-II formation and improved autophagic flux in ARPE-19 cells. Additionally, the A2E degradation activity of JS-017 was found to be decreased in autophagy-related 5 protein-depleted ARPE-19 cells, suggesting that autophagy was required for A2E degradation mediated by JS-017. Finally, JS-017 exhibited an improvement in BL-induced retinal damage measured through fundus examination in an in vivo retinal degeneration mouse model. The thickness of the outer nuclear layer and inner/external segments, which was decreased upon exposure to BL irradiation, was also restored upon JS-017 treatment. Altogether, we demonstrated that JS-017 protected human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells from A2E and BL-induced damage by degrading A2E via the activation of autophagy. The results suggest the feasibility of a novel A2E-degrading small molecule as a therapeutic agent for retinal degenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115534
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
StatePublished - May 2023

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© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


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