Fatty acid oxidation and photoreceptor metabolic needsPhotoreceptors have high energy demands and a high density of mitochondria that produce ATP through oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) of fuel substrates. Although glucose is the major fuel for CNS brain neurons, in photoreceptors (also CNS), most glucose is not metabolized through OXPHOS but is instead metabolized into lactate by aerobic glycolysis. The major fuel sources for photoreceptor mitochondria remained unclear for almost six decades. Similar to other tissues (like heart and skeletal muscle) with high metabolic rates, photoreceptors were recently found to metabolize fatty acids (palmitate) through OXPHOS.
Bisretinoid phospholipid and vitamin A aldehyde: shining a lightVitamin A aldehyde covalently bound to opsin protein is embedded in a phospholipid-rich membrane that supports photon absorption and phototransduction in photoreceptor cell outer segments. Following absorption of a photon, the 11-cis-retinal chromophore of visual pigment in photoreceptor cells isomerizes to all-trans-retinal. To maintain photosensitivity 11-cis-retinal must be replaced. At the same time, however, all-trans-retinal has to be handled so as to prevent nonspecific aldehyde activity.
Retinoids in the visual cycle: role of the retinal G protein-coupled receptorDriven by the energy of a photon, the visual pigments in rod and cone photoreceptor cells isomerize 11-cis-retinal to the all-trans configuration. This photochemical reaction initiates the signal transduction pathway that eventually leads to the transmission of a visual signal to the brain and leaves the opsins insensitive to further light stimulation. For the eye to restore light sensitivity, opsins require recharging with 11-cis-retinal. This trans-cis back conversion is achieved through a series of enzymatic reactions composing the retinoid (visual) cycle.
The emerging roles of the macular pigment carotenoids throughout the lifespan and in prenatal supplementationSince the publication of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) in 2013, the macular pigment carotenoids lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) have become well known to both the eye care community and the public. It is a fascinating aspect of evolution that primates have repurposed photoprotective pigments and binding proteins from plants and insects to protect and enhance visual acuity. Moreover, utilization of these plant-derived nutrients has been widely embraced for preventing vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.
Cholesterol homeostasis in the vertebrate retina: biology and pathobiologyCholesterol is a quantitatively and biologically significant constituent of all mammalian cell membrane, including those that comprise the retina. Retinal cholesterol homeostasis entails the interplay between de novo synthesis, uptake, intraretinal sterol transport, metabolism, and efflux. Defects in these complex processes are associated with several congenital and age-related disorders of the visual system. Herein, we provide an overview of the following topics: (a) cholesterol synthesis in the neural retina; (b) lipoprotein uptake and intraretinal sterol transport in the neural retina and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE); (c) cholesterol efflux from the neural retina and the RPE; and (d) biology and pathobiology of defects in sterol synthesis and sterol oxidation in the neural retina and the RPE.