Effects of atropine on the barrier function of retinal pigment epithelial cells in myopia

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Background To investigate whether atropine has an effect on RPE cell barrier function both in vivo and in vitro. Methods Atropine was used to treat ARPE-19. The proliferation and migration of ARPE-19 cells were observed using CCK8 and Wound healing assay. 3-week-old tri-color guinea pigs were modeled in FDM and treated with atropine. Refractive diopter was measured by an animal-specialized infrared eccentric refractor. Axial length was measured by an A-ultrasonic scan. The expression of myopia-related and adherens and tight function-related proteins was analyzed by Western blot, Real-time PCR assay and immunocytochemistry. Results In vitro, cell proliferation and migration were slowed down after atropine intervention in normal ARPE-19 cells. Intervention of ARPE-19 cells with atropine for 24 hours resulted in increased COL1A1 expression both in protein and mRNA level, while fibronectin was decreased. The expression of ZO-1 and E-cadherin were increased and MMP-2 expression was decreased in ARPE-19 cells after atropine treatment. In vivo, myopic refractive error and axial changes were slowed down by atropine in FDM guinea pigs. COL1A1 in scleral was significantly lower in the more myopic eyes than normal eyes, while MMP-2 protein expression was elevated. In the RPE choroidal complex, E-cadherin and ZO-1 protein expression as well as CDH-1 mRNA expression decreased in FDM guinea pigs and increased after atropine intervention. Conclusions Atropine may inhibit the damage of RPE barrier function in myopia by increasing the ZO-1 and E-cadherin expression.

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