Oxidative stress (OS) in the retina plays an important role in the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Our previous work has shown that OS can quantitatively regulate the expression of AP-1 family genes in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). In this study, we sought to determine whether AP-1 genes can be used as cellular biomarkers of OS to evaluate the efficacy of ascorbate, the major aqueous-phase antioxidant in the blood, in reducing OS in RPE cells in vitro. Human ARPE19 cells were pretreated with increasing levels of ascorbate (0-500 µM) for 3 days which was then removed from the medium. OS was induced 24 h later by the addition of hydrogen peroxide for 1-4 h, to bring the final media concentration of H(2)O(2) to 500 µM. FosB, c-Fos, and ATF3 gene expression was examined from 0 to 24 h after OS. Pretreatment with 200 µM ascorbate maximally reduced the transcriptional OS response of AP-1 genes by up to 87% after 1 and 4 h, compared to controls. One hundred micromolar of ascorbate provided a statistically significant, but far more modest effect. Ascorbate supplementation of 100-200 µM appears to strongly inhibit OS-induced activation of AP-1 in vitro, but pretreatment with higher levels of ascorbate conferred no additional advantage. These studies suggest that there are optimal levels of antioxidant supplementation to the RPE in vitro. Laboratory assays based upon transcription factor biomarkers may be useful to define beneficial molecular responses to new antioxidants, alternative dosing regimens, and to explore therapeutic efficacy in OS models in vitro.
Copyright © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.