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Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume 2015, Article ID 186946, 14 pages
Research Article

Apelin Protects Primary Rat Retinal Pericytes from Chemical Hypoxia-Induced Apoptosis

1Department of Ophthalmology, People’s Hospital, Peking University, 11 Xizhimen South Street, Xicheng District, Beijing 100044, China
2Key Laboratory of Vision Loss and Restoration, Beijing Key Laboratory of Diagnosis and Therapy of Retinal and Choroid Diseases, Ministry of Education, 11 Xizhimen South Street, Xicheng District, Beijing 100044, China

Received 27 November 2014; Revised 24 January 2015; Accepted 10 February 2015

Academic Editor: Juliana L. Dreyfuss

Copyright © 2015 Li Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pericytes are a population of cells that participate in normal vessel architecture and regulate permeability. Apelin, as the endogenous ligand of G protein-coupled receptor APJ, participates in a number of physiological and pathological processes. To date, the effect of apelin on pericyte is not clear. Our study aimed to investigate the potential protection mechanisms of apelin, with regard to primary rat retinal pericytes under hypoxia. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that pericytes colocalized with APJ in the fibrovascular membranes dissected from proliferative diabetic retinopathy patients. In the in vitro studies, we first demonstrated that the expression of apelin/APJ was upregulated in pericytes under hypoxia, and apelin increased pericytes proliferation and migration. Moreover, knockdown of apelin in pericyte was achieved via lentivirus-mediated RNA interference. After the inhibition of apelin, pericytes proliferation was inhibited significantly in hypoxia culture condition. Furthermore, exogenous recombinant apelin effectively prevented hypoxia-induced apoptosis through downregulating active-caspase 3 expression and increasing the ratio of B cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2)/Bcl-2 associated X protein (Bax) in pericytes. These results suggest that apelin suppressed hypoxia-induced pericytes injury, which indicated that apelin could be a potential therapeutic target for retinal angiogenic diseases.