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Inhibitory effect of certain neuropeptides on the proliferation of human retinal pigment epithelial cells
  1. J Troger,
  2. S Sellemond,
  3. G Kieselbach,
  4. M Kralinger,
  5. E Schmid,
  6. B Teuchner,
  7. Q A Nguyen,
  8. E Schretter-Irschick,
  9. W Göttinger
  1. Department of Ophthalmology and Optometry, University Clinic, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  1. Correspondence to: Josef Troger MD, Universitätsklinik für Augenheilkunde, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria;


Aims: To define the effect of the neuropeptides substance P, calcitonin gene related peptide, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, neuropeptide Y, and secretoneurin on the proliferation of human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.

Methods: ARPE-19 cells were used. The cells were cultured in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium. 1000 and 2000 cells were incubated with the peptides for 3 and 5 days, and the effect of the peptides was evaluated by an ATP lite assay dose dependently. Furthermore, specific antagonists at 10−6 M were used to find out whether the effect would be reversed.

Results: In brief, each of the peptides tested had an inhibiting effect. This inhibiting effect was weak but highly significant, averaging 10% to 15%, and was most pronouncedly seen at concentrations between 10−10 M and 10−14 M. Each antagonist reversed the inhibiting effect fully.

Conclusions: These results clearly indicate that RPE cells are under neural control and the low effective concentration of the peptides may be the one physiologically acting on these cells. The results are of important relevance both physiologically and pathophysiologically: physiologically, the inhibitory effect may mean that these peptides cause the cells to remain in a differentiated condition. Pathophysiologically, the findings are relevant in proliferative vitreoretinopathy where RPE cells proliferate in excess. The authors hypothesise that the inhibiting effect diminishes when these cells are swept out and actively migrate from their physiological location and thus, dedifferentiate and begin to proliferate. This hypothesis improves the knowledge of the initial processes in the pathogenesis of the disease as there seems to be a discrepancy between facilitatory and inhibitory influences favouring the former in proliferative vitreoretinopathy. Furthermore, these neuropeptides constitute the first endogenous inhibitors of RPE cell proliferation.

  • ATP lite assay
  • neuropeptide
  • retinal pigment epithelial cells

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