Inhibition of Connective Tissue Growth Factor Overexpression in Diabetic Retinopathy by SERPINA3K via Blocking the WNT/β-Catenin Pathway

  1. Jian-xing Ma
  1. From the Department of Cell Biology, Department of Medicine, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  1. Corresponding author: Jian-xing, jian-xing-ma{at}


OBJECTIVE Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a major fibrogenic factor. Increased retinal CTGF levels have been implicated to play a role in diabetic retinopathy. SERPINA3K is a serine proteinase inhibitor, and its levels were decreased in retinas with diabetic retinopathy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of SERPINA3K in the regulation of CTGF and fibrogenesis and its mechanism of action.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Adenovirus expressing SERPINA3K was injected intravitreally into streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. CTGF expression was measured using Western blot analysis and real-time RT-PCR. Fibrosis was evaluated by quantifying retinal fibronectin using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Wnt pathway activation was determined by phosphorylation of LDL receptor–related protein 6, a coreceptor of Wnt ligands, and stabilization of β-catenin, an essential effector of the canonical Wnt pathway.

RESULTS Ad-SERPINA3K attenuated the CTGF and fibronectin overexpression in retinas of diabetic rats. In cultured retinal cells, SERPINA3K blocked the overproduction of CTGF induced by high glucose. Dickkopf-1, a specific Wnt antagonist, also attenuated the high-glucose–induced CTGF overexpression, indicating a role of Wnt signaling in CTGF overexpression in diabetes. Similarly, increased SERPINA3K blocked Wnt pathway activation in diabetic retinas and in cells treated with high glucose. Further, SERPINA3K also attenuated the Wnt3a-induced activation of the canonical Wnt pathway and the overexpression of CTGF.

CONCLUSION SERPINA3K is an antifibrogenic factor, and its antifibrogenic activity is through blocking the Wnt pathway. Decreased SERPINA3K levels may contribute to the fibrosis in diabetic retinopathy.


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  • Received July 17, 2009.
  • Accepted March 6, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 59 no. 7 1809-1816
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