Publications -- Raghu Krishnamoorthy

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This collection is limited to articles published under the terms of a creative commons license or other open access publishing agreement since 2016. It is not intended as a complete list of the author's works.


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    The endothelin receptor antagonist macitentan ameliorates endothelin-mediated vasoconstriction and promotes the survival of retinal ganglion cells in rats
    (Frontiers Media S.A., 2023-01-01) Kodati, Bindu; Zhang, Wei; He, Shaoqing; Pham, Jennifer H.; Beall, Kallen J.; Swanger, Zoe E.; Krishnamoorthy, Vignesh R.; Harris, Payton E.; Hall, Trent; Tran, Ashley V.; Chaphalkar, Renuka M.; Chavala, Sai H.; Stankowska, Dorota L.; Krishnamoorthy, Raghu R.
    Glaucoma is a chronic and progressive eye disease, commonly associated with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and characterized by optic nerve degeneration, cupping of the optic disc, and loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The pathological changes in glaucoma are triggered by multiple mechanisms and both mechanical effects and vascular factors are thought to contribute to the etiology of glaucoma. Various studies have shown that endothelin-1 (ET-1), a vasoactive peptide, acting through its G protein coupled receptors, ET(A) and ET(B), plays a pathophysiologic role in glaucoma. However, the mechanisms by which ET-1 contribute to neurodegeneration remain to be completely understood. Our laboratory and others demonstrated that macitentan (MAC), a pan endothelin receptor antagonist, has neuroprotective effects in rodent models of IOP elevation. The current study aimed to determine if oral administration of a dual endothelin antagonist, macitentan, could promote neuroprotection in an acute model of intravitreal administration of ET-1. We demonstrate that vasoconstriction following the intravitreal administration of ET-1 was attenuated by dietary administration of the ET(A)/ET(B) dual receptor antagonist, macitentan (5 mg/kg body weight) in retired breeder Brown Norway rats. ET-1 intravitreal injection produced a 40% loss of RGCs, which was significantly lower in macitentan-treated rats. We also evaluated the expression levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) at 24 h and 7 days post intravitreal administration of ET-1 in Brown Norway rats as well as following ET-1 treatment in cultured human optic nerve head astrocytes. We observed that at the 24 h time point the expression levels of GFAP was upregulated (indicative of glial activation) following intravitreal ET-1 administration in both retina and optic nerve head regions. However, following macitentan administration for 7 days after intravitreal ET-1 administration, we observed an upregulation of GFAP expression, compared to untreated rats injected intravitreally with ET-1 alone. Macitentan treatment in ET-1 administered rats showed protection of RGC somas but was not able to preserve axonal integrity and functionality. The endothelin receptor antagonist, macitentan, has neuroprotective effects in the retinas of Brown Norway rats acting through different mechanisms, including enhancement of RGC survival and reduction of ET-1 mediated vasoconstriction.
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    Role of mitophagy in ocular neurodegeneration
    (Frontiers Media S.A., 2023-11-15) Brooks, Calvin D.; Kodati, Bindu; Stankowska, Dorota L.; Krishnamoorthy, Raghu R.
    Neurons in the central nervous system are among the most metabolically active cells in the body, characterized by high oxygen consumption utilizing glucose both aerobically and anaerobically. Neurons have an abundance of mitochondria which generate adequate ATP to keep up with the high metabolic demand. One consequence of the oxidative phosphorylation mechanism of ATP synthesis, is the generation of reactive oxygen species which produces cellular injury as well as damage to mitochondria. Mitochondria respond to injury by fusion which serves to ameliorate the damage through genetic complementation. Mitochondria also undergo fission to meet an increased energy demand. Loss of mitochondria is also compensated by increased biogenesis to generate new mitochondria. Damaged mitochondria are removed by mitophagy, an autophagic process, in which damaged mitochondria are surrounded by a membrane to form an autophagosome which ultimately fuses with the lysosome resulting in degradation of faulty mitochondria. Dysregulation of mitophagy has been reported in several central nervous system disorders, including, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Recent studies point to aberrant mitophagy in ocular neurodegenerative disorders which could be an important contributor to the disease etiology/pathology. This review article highlights some of the recent findings that point to dysregulation of mitophagy and it's underlying mechanisms in ocular neurodegenerative diseases, including, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
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    Modulating mitochondrial calcium channels (TRPM2/MCU/NCX) as a therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative disorders
    (Frontiers Media S.A., 2023-11-06) Johnson, Gretchen A.; Krishnamoorthy, Raghu R.; Stankowska, Dorota L.
    Efficient cellular communication is essential for the brain to regulate diverse functions like muscle contractions, memory formation and recall, decision-making, and task execution. This communication is facilitated by rapid signaling through electrical and chemical messengers, including voltage-gated ion channels and neurotransmitters. These messengers elicit broad responses by propagating action potentials and mediating synaptic transmission. Calcium influx and efflux are essential for releasing neurotransmitters and regulating synaptic transmission. Mitochondria, which are involved in oxidative phosphorylation, and the energy generation process, also interact with the endoplasmic reticulum to store and regulate cytoplasmic calcium levels. The number, morphology, and distribution of mitochondria in different cell types vary based on energy demands. Mitochondrial damage can cause excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. Mitophagy is a selective process that targets and degrades damaged mitochondria via autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Defects in mitophagy can lead to a buildup of ROS and cell death. Numerous studies have attempted to characterize the relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and calcium dysregulation in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinocerebellar ataxia, and aging. Interventional strategies to reduce mitochondrial damage and accumulation could serve as a therapeutic target, but further research is needed to unravel this potential. This review offers an overview of calcium signaling related to mitochondria in various neuronal cells. It critically examines recent findings, exploring the potential roles that mitochondrial dysfunction might play in multiple neurodegenerative diseases and aging. Furthermore, the review identifies existing gaps in knowledge to guide the direction of future research.
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    Involvement of c-Jun N-terminal kinase 2 (JNK2) in Endothelin-1 (ET-1) Mediated Neurodegeneration of Retinal Ganglion Cells
    (ARVO Journals, 2021-05-03) Kodati, Bindu; Stankowska, Dorota L.; Krishnamoorthy, Vignesh R.; Krishnamoorthy, Raghu R.
    Purpose: The goal of this study was to determine whether JNK2 played a causative role in endothelin-mediated loss of RGCs in mice. Methods: JNK2-/- and wild type (C57BL/6) mice were intravitreally injected in one eye with 1 nmole of ET-1, whereas the contralateral eye was injected with the vehicle. At two time points (two hours and 24 hours) after the intravitreal injections, mice were euthanized, and phosphorylated c-Jun was assessed in retinal sections. In a separate set of experiments, JNK2-/- and wild type mice were intravitreally injected with either 1 nmole of ET-1 or its vehicle and euthanized seven days after injection. Retinal flat mounts were stained with antibodies to the RGC marker, Brn3a, and surviving RGCs were quantified. Axonal degeneration was assessed in paraphenylenediamine stained optic nerve sections. Results: Intravitreal ET-1 administration produced a significant increase in immunostaining for phospho c-Jun in wild type mice, which was appreciably lower in the JNK2 -/- mice. A significant (P < 0.05) 26% loss of RGCs was found in wild type mice, seven days after injection with ET-1. JNK2-/- mice showed a significant protection from RGC loss following ET-1 administration, compared to wild type mice injected with ET-1. A significant decrease in axonal counts and an increase in the collapsed axons was found in ET-1 injected wild type mice eyes. Conclusions: JNK2 appears to play a major role in ET-1 mediated loss of RGCs in mice. Neuroprotective effects in JNK2-/- mice following ET-1 administration occur mainly in the soma and not in the axons of RGCs.
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    Upregulation of the endothelin A (ETA) receptor and its association with neurodegeneration in a rodent model of glaucoma
    (BioMed Central Ltd., 2017-03-01) McGrady, Nolan R.; Minton, Alena Z.; Stankowska, Dorota L.; He, Shaoqing; Jefferies, Hayden B.; Krishnamoorthy, Raghu R.
    BACKGROUND: Primary open angle glaucoma is a heterogeneous group of optic neuropathies that results in optic nerve degeneration and a loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) ultimately causing blindness if allowed to progress. Elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP) is the most attributable risk factor for developing glaucoma and lowering of IOP is currently the only available therapy. However, despite lowering IOP, neurodegenerative effects persist in some patients. Hence, it would be beneficial to develop approaches to promote neuroprotection of RGCs in addition to IOP lowering therapies. The endothelin system is a key target for intervention against glaucomatous neurodegeneration. The endothelin family of peptides and receptors, particularly endothelin-1 (ET-1) and endothelin B (ETB) receptor, has been shown to have neurodegenerative roles in glaucoma. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in endothelin A (ETA) receptor protein expression in the retinas of adult male Brown Norway rats following IOP elevation by the Morrison's model of ocular hypertension and the impact of ETA receptor overexpression on RGC viability in vitro. RESULTS: IOP elevation was carried out in one eye of Brown Norway rats by injection of hypertonic saline through episcleral veins. After 2 weeks of IOP elevation, immunohistochemical analysis of retinal sections from rat eyes showed an increasing trend in immunostaining for ETA receptors in multiple retinal layers including the inner plexiform layer, ganglion cell layer and outer plexiform layer. Following 4 weeks of IOP elevation, a significant increase in immunostaining for ETA receptor expression was found in the retina, primarily in the inner plexiform layer and ganglion cells. A modest increase in staining for ETA receptors was also found in the outer plexiform layer in the retina of rats with IOP elevation. Cell culture studies showed that overexpression of ETA receptors in 661W cells as well as primary RGCs decreases cell viability, compared to empty vector transfected cells. Adeno-associated virus mediated overexpression of the ETA receptor produced an increase in the ETB receptor in primary RGCs. CONCLUSIONS: Elevated IOP results in an appreciable change in ETA receptor expression in the retina. Overexpression of the ETA receptor results in an overall decrease in cell viability, accompanied by an increase in ETB receptor levels, suggesting the involvement of both ETA and ETB receptors in mediating cell death. These findings raise possibilities for the development of ETA/ETB dual receptor antagonists as neuroprotective treatments for glaucomatous neuropathy.
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    A feed-forward regulation of endothelin receptors by c-Jun in human non-pigmented ciliary epithelial cells and retinal ganglion cells
    (PLOS, 2017-09-22) Wang, Junming; Ma, Hai-Ying; Krishnamoorthy, Raghu R.; Yorio, Thomas; He, Shaoqing
    c-Jun, c-Jun N-terminal kinase(JNK) and endothelin B (ETB) receptor have been shown to contribute to the pathogenesis of glaucoma. Previously, we reported that an increase of c-Jun and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein beta (C/EBPbeta) immunohistostaining is associated with upregulation of the ETB receptor within the ganglion cell layer of rats with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). In addition, both transcription factors regulate the expression of the ETB receptor in human non-pigmented ciliary epithelial cells (HNPE). The current study addressed the mechanisms by which ET-1 produced upregulation of ET receptors in primary rat retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and HNPE cells. Treatment of ET-1 and ET-3 increased the immunocytochemical staining of c-Jun and C/EBPbeta in primary rat RGCs and co-localization of both transcription factors was observed. A marked increase in DNA binding activity of AP-1 and C/EBPbeta as well as elevated protein levels of c-Jun and c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) were detected following ET-1 treatment in HNPE cells. Overexpression of ETA or ETB receptor promoted the upregulation of c-Jun and also elevated its promoter activity. In addition, upregulation of C/EBPbeta augmented DNA binding and mRNA expression of c-Jun, and furthermore, the interaction of c-Jun and C/EBPbeta was confirmed using co-immunoprecipitation. Apoptosis of HNPE cells was identified following ET-1 treatment, and overexpression of the ETA or ETB receptor produced enhanced apoptosis. ET-1 mediated upregulation of c-Jun and C/EBPbeta and their interaction may represent a novel mechanism contributing to the regulation of endothelin receptor expression. Reciprocally, c-Jun was also found to regulate the ET receptors and C/EBPbeta appeared to play a regulatory role in promoting expression of c-Jun. Taken together, the data suggests that ET-1 triggers the upregulation of c-Jun through both ETA and ETB receptors, and conversely c-Jun also upregulates endothelin receptor expression, thereby generating a positive feed-forward loop of endothelin receptor activation and expression. This feed-forward regulation may contribute to RGC death and astrocyte proliferation following ET-1 treatment.