Mitochondrial ferritin (FtMt) is believed to play an antioxidant role via iron regulation, and FtMt gene mutation has been reported in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, little is known about FtMt's functions in the retina and any links to AMD. In this study, we observed age-related increase in FtMt and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) in murine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). FtMt overexpression in ARPE-19 cells stabilized HIF-1α, and increased the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor. Conversely, HIF-1α stabilization reduced the protein level of the mature, functional form of FtMt. FtMt-overexpressing ARPE-19 cells exhibited less oxidative phosphorylation but unchanged production of adenosine triphosphate, enhanced mitochondrial fission, and triggered mitophagy in a HIF-1α–dependent manner. These findings suggest that increased FtMt in RPE may be protective via triggering mitophagy but cause wet AMD by inducing neovascularization due to increased vascular endothelial growth factor secretion. However, reduced level of functional FtMt in RPE under hypoxia may allow dry AMD through susceptibility to age-related stress.
Wang, X., Yang, H., Yanagisawa, D., Bellier, J. P., Morino, K., Zhao, S., … Tooyama, I. (2016). Mitochondrial ferritin affects mitochondria by stabilizing HIF-1α in retinal pigment epithelium: implications for the pathophysiology of age-related macular degeneration. Neurobiology of Aging, 47, 168–179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2016.07.025