Protective effect of a laser-induced sub-lethal temperature rise on RPE cells from oxidative stress

Hisashi Iwami, Joachim Pruessner, Kunihiko Shiraki, Ralf Brinkmann, Yoko Miura*

*Corresponding author for this work
10 Citations (Scopus)


Recently introduced new technologies that enable temperature-controlled laser irradiation on the RPE allowed us to investigate temperature-resolved RPE cell responses. In this study we aimed primarily to establish an experimental setup that can realize laser irradiation on RPE cell culture with the similar temperature distribution as in the clinical application, with a precise time/temperature history. With this setup, we conducted investigations to elucidate the temperature-dependent RPE cell biochemical responses and the effect of transient hyperthermia on the responses of RPE cells to the secondary-exposed oxidative stress. Porcine RPE cells cultivated in a culture dish (inner diameter=30mm) with culture medium were used, on which laser radiation (λ=1940nm, spot diameter=30mm) over 10s was applied as a heat source. The irradiation provides a radially decreasing temperature profile which is close to a Gaussian shape with the highest temperature in the center. Power setting for irradiation was determined such that the peak temperature (Tmax) in the center of the laser spot at the cells reaches from 40°C to 58°C (40, 43, 46, 50, 58°C). Cell viability was investigated with ethidium homodimer III staining at the time points of 3 and 24h following laser irradiation. Twenty four hours after laser irradiation the cells were exposed to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for 5h, followed by the measurement of intracellular glutathione, intracellular 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) protein adducts, and secreted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The mean temperature threshold for RPE cell death after 3h was found to be around 52°C, and for 24h around 50°C with the current irradiation setting. A sub-lethal preconditioning on Tmax=43°C significantly induced the reduced glutathione (GSH)/oxidized glutathione (GSSG) ratio, and decreased H2O2-induced increase of intracellular 4-HNE protein adducts. Although sub-lethal hyperthermia (Tmax=40°C, 43°C, and 46°C) caused a slight increase of VEGF secretion in 6h directly following irradiation, secondary exposed H2O2-induced VEGF secretion was significantly reduced in the sub-lethally preheated groups, where the largest effect was seen following the irradiation with Tmax=43°C. In summary, the current results suggest that sub-lethal thermal laser irradiation on the RPE at Tmax=43°C for 10s enhances cell defense system against oxidative stress, with increasing the GSH/GSSG ratio. Together with the results that the decreased amount of H2O2-induced 4-HNE in sub-lethally preheated RPE cells was accompanied by the lower secretion of VEGF, it is also strongly suggested that the sub-lethal hyperthermia may modify RPE cell functionality to protect RPE cells from oxidative stress and associated functional decrease, which are considered to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration and other chorioretinal degenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2014


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