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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4128061, 13 pages
Research Article

Spermidine Oxidation-Mediated Degeneration of Retinal Pigment Epithelium in Rats

Global Research and Development, Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Ikoma-shi, Nara, Japan

Correspondence should be addressed to Koji Ohashi

Received 13 October 2016; Revised 5 January 2017; Accepted 29 January 2017; Published 7 March 2017

Academic Editor: Yuhei Nishimura

Copyright © 2017 Koji Ohashi 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.


Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) degeneration is a crucial event in dry age-related macular degeneration and gyrate atrophy. The polyamine spermidine has been shown to induce RPE cell death in vitro. The present study aimed to establish a novel in vivo model of spermidine-induced RPE degeneration and to determine whether spermidine-induced RPE cell death involves oxidative mechanisms. In this study, spermidine caused ARPE-19 cell death in a concentration-dependent manner. This effect was prevented by removal of serum from the culture medium or treatment with amine oxidase inhibitors, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), or aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Intravitreal injection of spermidine into rats significantly increased the permeability of the blood-retinal barrier and decreased the amplitudes of scotopic electroretinogram a- and b-waves. Histological analysis revealed that spermidine induced vacuolation, atrophy, and dropout of RPE cells, leading to the disruption of photoreceptor outer segments. Simultaneous intravitreal administration of NAC and ALDH with spermidine prominently inhibited the functional and morphological changes induced by spermidine. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the intravitreal administration of spermidine induced RPE cell dysfunction and death followed by photoreceptor degeneration in rats. These effects of spermidine are thought to be mediated by oxidative stress and a toxic aldehyde generated during spermidine oxidation.