The use of antioxidants in tissue regeneration has been studied, but their mechanism of action is not well understood. Here, we analyze the role of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in retina regeneration. Embryonic chicks are able to regenerate their retina after its complete removal from retinal stem/progenitor cells present in the ciliary margin (CM) of the eye only if a source of exogenous factors, such as FGF2, is present. This study shows that NAC modifies the redox status of the CM, initiates self-renewal of the stem/progenitor cells, and induces regeneration in the absence of FGF2. NAC works as an antioxidant by scavenging free radicals either independently or through the synthesis of glutathione (GSH), and/or by reducing oxidized proteins through a thiol disulfide exchange activity. We dissected the mechanism used by NAC to induce regeneration through the use of inhibitors of GSH synthesis and the use of other antioxidants with different biochemical structures and modes of action, and found that NAC induces regeneration through its thiol disulfide exchange activity. Thus, our results provide, for the first time, a biochemical basis for induction of retina regeneration. Furthermore, NAC induction was independent of FGF receptor signaling, but dependent on the MAPK (pErk1/2) pathway.
Echeverri-Ruiz, N., Haynes, T., Landers, J., Woods, J., Gemma, M. J., Hughes, M., & Del Rio-Tsonis, K. (2018). A biochemical basis for induction of retina regeneration by antioxidants. Developmental Biology, 433(2), 394–403. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.08.013