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Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science


PURPOSE. Patients deficient in peroxisomal β-oxidation, which is essential for the synthesis of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6n-3) and breakdown of very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs), both important components of photoreceptor outer segments, develop retinopathy present with retinopathy. The representative mouse model lacking the central enzyme of this pathway, multifunctional protein 2 (Mfp2−/−), also show early-onset retinal decay and cell-autonomous retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) degeneration, accompanied by reduced plasma and retinal DHA levels. In this study, we investigated whether DHA supplementation can rescue the retinal degeneration of Mfp2−/− mice. METHODS. Mfp2+/− breeding pairs and their offspring were fed a 0.12% DHA or control diet during gestation and lactation and until sacrifice. Offspring were analyzed for retinal function via electroretinograms and for lipid composition of neural retina and plasma with lipidome analysis and gas chromatography, respectively, and histologically using retinal sections and RPE flatmounts at the ages of 4, 8, and 16 weeks. RESULTS. DHA supplementation to Mfp2−/− mice restored retinal DHA levels and prevented photoreceptor shortening, death, and impaired functioning until 8 weeks. In addition, rescue of retinal DHA levels temporarily improved the ability of the RPE to phagocytose outer segments and delayed the RPE dedifferentiation. However, despite the initial rescue of retinal integrity, DHA supplementation could not prevent retinal degeneration at 16 weeks. CONCLUSIONS. We reveal that the shortage of a systemic supply of DHA is pivotal for the early retinal degeneration in Mfp2−/− mice. Furthermore, we report that adequate retinal DHA levels are essential not only for photoreceptors but also for RPE homeostasis.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.