Aliskiren decreases oxidative stress and angiogenic markers in retinal pigment epithelium cells

Sónia Simão, Daniela F. Santos, Gabriela A. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing evidence on the role of ocular renin–angiotensin system (RAS) in the development of diabetic retinopathy (DR), particularly due to the trigger of oxidative stress and angiogenesis. Despite this there is no effective RAS-based therapy in DR capable of preventing retinal damage induced by RAS activation. We recently described that retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells express the main components of the RAS. We here propose to investigate the role of glucose upon the retinal RAS and whether aliskiren, a direct renin inhibitor, protects RPE cells from angiogenesis and oxidative stress. RPE cells were chosen as target since one of the first events in DR is the dysfunction of the RPE retinal layer, which as a key function in maintaining the integrity of the retina. We found that the RAS present in the RPE cells was deregulated by hyperglycemic glucose concentrations. Exposure of RPE cells to angiotensin II increased the levels of the main pro-angiogenic factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in a concentration-dependent manner. Additionally, angiotensin II also stimulated the production of reactive oxygen species in RPE cells. Treatment of RPE cells with aliskiren decreased the levels of oxidative stress and promoted the expression of anti-angiogenic factors such as the pigment epithelium-derived factor and the VEGF165b isoform. Our findings demonstrate that the RAS is deregulated in hyperglycemic conditions and that aliskiren successfully protected RPE cells from RAS over activation. These anti-angiogenic and antioxidant properties described for aliskiren over RPE cells suggest that this drug has potential to be used in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Aliskiren
  • Angiogenesis
  • Oxidative stress
  • Renin–angiotensin system
  • Retinal pigment epithelium


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