A model to study complement involvement in experimental retinal degeneration

<p><b>Background:</b> The complement system (CS) plays a role in the pathogenesis of a number of ocular diseases, including diabetic retinopathy (DR), glaucoma, uveitis, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Given that many of the complex eye-related degenerative diseases have limited treatment opportunities, we aimed to mimic the <i>in vivo</i> retinal degenerative process by developing a relevant co-culture system.</p> <p><b>Method and materials:</b> The adult porcine retina was co-cultured with the spontaneously arising human retinal pigment epithelial cells-19 (ARPE-19).</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Inflammatory activity was found after culture and included migrating microglial cells, gliosis, cell death, and CS activation (demonstrated by a minor increase in the secreted anaphylotoxin C3a in co-culture). CS components, including C1q, C3, C4, soluble C5b-9, and the C5a receptor, were expressed in the retina and/or ARPE cells after culture. C1q, C3, and CS regulators such as C4 binding protein (C4BP), factor H (CFH), and factor I (CFI) were secreted after culture.</p> <p><b>Discussion:</b> Thus, our research indicates that this co-culturing system may be useful for investigations of the CS and its involvement in experimental neurodegenerative diseases.</p>