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Studies of ApoD−/− and ApoD−/−ApoE−/− mice uncover the APOD significance for retinal metabolism, function, and status of chorioretinal blood vessels


Apolipoprotein D (APOD) is an atypical apolipoprotein with unknown significance for retinal structure and function. Conversely, apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a typical apolipoprotein with established roles in retinal cholesterol transport. Herein, we immunolocalized APOD to the photoreceptor inner segments and conducted ophthalmic characterizations of ApoD-/- and ApoD-/-ApoE-/- mice. ApoD-/- mice had normal levels of retinal sterols but changes in the chorioretinal blood vessels and impaired retinal function. The whole-body glucose disposal was impaired in this genotype but the retinal glucose metabolism was unchanged. ApoD-/-ApoE-/- mice had altered sterol profile in the retina but apparently normal chorioretinal vasculature and function. The whole-body glucose disposal and retinal glucose utilization were enhanced in this genotype. OB-Rb, both leptin and APOD receptor, was found to be expressed in the photoreceptor inner segments and was at increased abundance in the ApoD-/- and ApoD-/-ApoE-/- retinas. Retinal levels of Glut4 and Cd36, the glucose transporter and scavenger receptor, respectively, were increased as well, thus linking APOD to retinal glucose and fatty acid metabolism and suggesting the APOD-OB-Rb-GLUT4/CD36 axis. In vivo isotopic labeling, transmission electron microscopy, and retinal proteomics provided additional insights into the mechanism underlying the retinal phenotypes of ApoD-/- and ApoD-/-ApoE-/- mice. Collectively, our data suggest that the APOD roles in the retina are context specific and could determine retinal glucose fluxes into different pathways. APOD and APOE do not play redundant, complementary or opposing roles in the retina, rather their interplay is more complex and reflects retinal responses elicited by lack of these apolipoproteins.

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