Protein glutathionylation, defined as the formation of protein mixed disulfides (PSSG) between cysteine residues and glutathione (GSH), can lead to cell death. Glutaredoxin 1 (Grx1) is a thiol repair enzyme which catalyzes the reduction of PSSG. Therefore, Grx1 exerts strong anti-apoptotic effects by improving the redox state, especially in times of oxidative stress. However, there is currently no compound that is identified as a Grx1 activator. In this study, we identified and characterized Salvianolic acid B (Sal B), a natural compound, as a Grx1 inducer, which potently protected retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells from oxidative injury. Our results showed that treatment with Sal B protected primary human RPE cells from H2O2-induced cell damage. Interestingly, we found Sal B pretreatment upregulated Grx1 expression in RPE cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), the key transcription factor that regulates the expression of Grx1, was activated in Sal B treated RPE cells. Further investigation showed that knockdown of Grx1 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) significantly reduced the protective effects of Sal B. We conclude that Sal B protects RPE cells against H2O2-induced cell injury through Grx1 induction by activating Nrf2 pathway, thus preventing lethal accumulation of PSSG and reversing oxidative damage.
- Glutaredoxin 1
- Oxidative stress
- Protein glutathionylation
- Retinal pigment epithelial cells
- Salvianolic acid B