Intercellular communication analysis of the human retinal pigment epithelial and choroidal cells predicts pathways associated with aging, cellular senescence and age-related macular degeneration

Dhanach Dhirachaikulpanich, Cyril Lagger, Kasit Chatsirisupachai, João Pedro de Magalhães*, Luminita Paraoan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the choroid are ocular tissues with fundamental roles in supporting neuroretinal function. The pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of irreversible blindness for which aging is the highest risk factor is closely linked with progressive impairment of various functions of these tissues. Cellular senescence, marked by cell cycle arrest and secretion of proinflammatory factors, is known to be associated with aging and has been proposed as a potential driver of AMD. Here, we investigated the role played by intercellular communication in the RPE/choroid within the context of aging, senescence and AMD. We inferred cell–cell interactions in the RPE/choroid by applying CellChat and scDiffCom on a publicly available scRNA-seq dataset from three human donors with and without AMD. We identified age-regulated ligand and receptor genes by using limma on a separate publicly available bulk microarray dataset providing RPE/choroid samples at multiple time points. Cellular senescence was investigated by assigning a score to each cell and each sample of these scRNA-seq and microarray datasets, respectively, based on the expression of key signature genes determined by a previous senescence meta-analysis. We identified VEGF-, BMP-and tenascin-mediated pathways supporting some of the strongest cell–cell interactions between RPE cells, fibroblasts and choroidal endothelial cells and as strong intercellular communication pathways related to both aging and senescence. Their signaling strength was enhanced between subpopulations of cells having high senescence scores. Predominant ligands of these pathways were upregulated with age whereas predominant receptors were downregulated. Globally, we also observed that cells from AMD samples presented slightly bigger senescence scores than normal cells and that the senescence score positively correlated with age in bulk samples (R = 0.26, value of p < 0.01). Hence, our analysis provides novel information on RPE/choroid intercellular communication that gives insights into the connection between aging, senescence and AMD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1016293
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • aging
  • AMD
  • BMP
  • choroid
  • RPE
  • senescence
  • tenascin
  • VEGF

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