Tag Archives: Felix R. Vazquez-Chona

Metabolic, Excitation and Functional Mapping of Diabetic Retinopathy

This abstract was presented today, Monday, April 30th at the 2018 Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii by Felix R. Vazquez-Chona, Tam T.T. Phuong, Oleg Yarishkin, Bryan W. Jones, and David Krizaj

Loss of vision in diabetic retinopathy is associated with extensive shifts in retinal metabolic and synaptic function yet the general principles that govern the metabolic remodeling remain unknown. To define the metabolic signature in hyperglycemic retina we took advantage of in situ metabolomics, excitation mapping and gene knockdown. Specifically, we investigated whether manipulation of the swelling-activated calcium-permeable TRPV4 (transient receptor potential isoform 4) channel contributes to the metabolic program of the degenerating neurogliovascular subunit in diabetic mice.

Type I diabetes in wild type (WT) and TRPV4-/- mice was induced with streptozotocin (STZ). We visualized glutamate (NMDA)-gated excitation and glucose transport using the organic cation agmatine (AGB2+) and the glucose analog glucosamine (GCN). Retinas were fixed in glutaraldehyde, sectioned, and incubated with antibodies targeting GCN and AGB. Cell classification and metabolic status were interrogated using Computational Metabolic Profiling (CMP) and probes against ADP, alanine, arginine, aspartate, citrulline, GABA, glutamate, glycine, glutathione, glutamine, isoleucine, taurine, glutamine synthetase, CRALBP, GFAP, and tomato lectin.

Amacrine and ganglion cells in control retinas responded to NMDA activation with a large elevations in AGB and GCN signals. Diabetic amacrine cells maintained a robust dynamic range of AGB and GCN signals which however were markedly diminished in RGCs. Metabolomic maps of diabetic WT retinas showed that the outer retina remains metabolically quiescent whereas the ganglion cell layer displayed cells with lower glutamate and GABA signals. Diabetic TRPV4-deficient retinas displayed metabolomic, excitation, and glucose transport maps that were comparable to control retinas. ERG analysis showed modest STZ-induced changes in scotopic a- and b-waves of WT and KO eyes.

Our preliminary electrophysiological and metabolomic findings suggest that STZ-induced diabetes spares the inner retina but alters amacrine-ganglion cell signaling, the neurogliovascular unit organization together with RGC metabolism. TRPV4 inactivation partially rescues the metabolic, excitation, physiologic phenotypes imposed by hyperglycemia. These results suggest that ambient sensing through polymodal TRP channels links retinal neuronal, glial and endothelial signaling to cellular metabolism and visual function.

In Situ Metabolomic Signatures Of Neuroprotection, Apoptosis, And Microglial Phagocytosis

This abstract was presented July 1st at the 11th International Converence of the Metabolomics Society at the University of California, Davis by Felix Vazquez-Chona, Drew Ferrell, Bryan W. Jones and Robert E. Marc.


Metabolic dysregulation is an early hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and age-related macular degeneration. Mapping metabolic adaptation with cellular resolution and tissue- wide context is crucial to define networks regulating neuronal survival, cell death progression, and immune cell response.

Computational Molecular Phenotyping (CMP) explores the amine metabolome (amino acids and amines). Technically, CMP metabolomics combines amine metabolite trapping, ultrathin microscopy (50-200 nm), immunodetection, pattern recognition, and clustering algorithms. Here we mapped the in situ distribution of over 30 core amine metabolites in retinal cells challenged by light-induced oxidative stress. Metabolomic profiles were phenotyped using ultrastructural, biochemical, and proteomic indices of oxidative stress.

CMP enabled precise visualization of >30 metabolites in every retinal cell. CMP resolved and phenotyped metabolomic profiles to specific degeneration and microglial functional states in the light-damaged retina. Cone photoreceptor survival correlated with enhanced antioxidant glutathione content. Rod photoreceptor apoptosis coincided with rapid depletion of organic osmolytes followed by nuclear import of cationic arginine metabolites. Delay in cell death increased necrosis and DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Microglial chemotaxis enhanced distinct signatures of glutamate and glutathione metabolism; whereas, phagocytosis coinduced classic (M1) and alternative (M2) arginine metabolites of macrophage activation.

CMP discovers and phenotypes cell classes, tracks cell state, and maps disease with single-cell resolution in any tissue or organism.