Immunohistochemical Characterization of Connexin43 Expression in a Mouse Model of Diabetic Retinopathy and in Human Donor Retinas

Odunayo O. Mugisho, Colin R. Green, Jie Zhang, Nicolette Binz, Monica L. Acosta, Elizabeth Rakoczy, Ilva D. Rupenthal

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Diabetic retinopathy (DR) develops due to hyperglycemia and inflammation-induced vascular disruptions in the retina with connexin43 expression patterns in the disease still debated. Here, the effects of hyperglycemia and inflammation on connexin43 expression in vitro in a mouse model of DR and in human donor tissues were evaluated. Primary human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (hRMECs) were exposed to high glucose (HG; 25 mM) or pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha (10 ng/mL each) or both before assessing connexin43 expression. Additionally, connexin43, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and plasmalemma vesicular associated protein (PLVAP) were labeled in wild-type (C57BL/6), Akita (diabetic), and Akimba (DR) mouse retinas. Finally, connexin43 and GFAP expression in donor retinas with confirmed DR was compared to age-matched controls. Co-application of HG and cytokines increased connexin43 expression in hRMECs in line with results seen in mice, with no significant difference in connexin43 or GFAP expression in Akita but higher expression in Akimba compared to wild-type mice. On PLVAP-positive vessels, connexin43 was higher in Akimba but unchanged in Akita compared to wild-type mice. Connexin43 expression appeared higher in donor retinas with confirmed DR compared to age-matched controls, similar to the distribution seen in Akimba mice and correlating with the in vitro results. Although connexin43 expression seems reduced in diabetes, hyperglycemia and inflammation present in the pathology of DR seem to increase connexin43 expression, suggesting a causal role of connexin43 channels in the disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2567
Number of pages14
JournalInternation Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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