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Photobleaching and Fluorescence Recovery of RPE Bisretinoids

Liu, Zhao; Ueda, Keiko; Kim, Hye Jin; Sparrow, Janet R.

The autofluorescence of the retina that originates primarily from lipofuscin fluorophores in retinal pigment epithelial cells, is observed to undergo photobleaching during the acquisition of fundus autofluorescence images. Bisretinoid fluorophores isolated from retinal pigment epithelial cells have the spectral characteristics consistent with their being the source of fundus autofluorescence. Clinically relevant experiments were designed to better understand conditions in the micromilieu of bisretinoid fluorophores that can influence fluorescence efficiencies, photobleaching, and subsequent fluorescence recovery of this fluorophore. The consumption of the bisretinoid A2E due to photooxidation-induced degradation was quantified in solvent systems of variable relative permittivity (formerly called dielectric constant), in micelles, and in phospholipid vesicles of varying composition. Reorganization within biphasic systems was also examined. A2E content was measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and fluorescence intensity was quantified spectroscopically. As solvent polarity was increased, A2E fluorescent spectra exhibited red-shifted maxima and reduced intensity. A2E was depleted by light irradiation and the loss was more pronounced in less polar solvents, lower concentrations of anionic surfactant, and in gel- versus fluid-ordered phospholipid liposomes. Conditions that permit A2E aggregation promoted photooxidation/photodegradation, while movement of A2E between bisphasic systems was associated with fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. The fluorescence characteristics of A2E are subject to environmental modulation. Photooxidation and photodegradation of bisretinoid can account for fundus autofluorescence photobleaching. Return of fluorescence intensity after photobleaching likely occurs due to redistribution of A2E fractions amongst co-existing heterogeneous microdomains of the lysosomal compartment.

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Academic Units
Ophthalmology
Published Here
December 15, 2015