Oxidative stress in retinal pigment epithelium cells increases exosome secretion and promotes angiogenesis in endothelial cells
We have explored the mechanisms underlying ethanol-induced mitochondrial dynamics disruption and mitophagy. Ethanol increases mitochondrial fission in a concentration-dependent manner through Drp1 mitochondrial translocation and OPA1 proteolytic cleavage. ARPE-19 (a human retinal pigment epithelial cell line) cells challenged with ethanol showed mitochondrial potential disruptions mediated by alterations in mitochondrial complex IV protein level and increases in mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production. In addition, ethanol activated the canonical autophagic pathway, as denoted by autophagosome formation and autophagy regulator elements including Beclin1, ATG5-ATG12 and P-S6 kinase. Likewise, autophagy inhibition dramatically increased mitochondrial fission and cell death, whereas autophagy stimulation rendered the opposite results, placing autophagy as a cytoprotective response aimed to remove damaged mitochondria. Interestingly, although ethanol induced mitochondrial Bax translocation, this episode was associated to cell death rather than mitochondrial fission or autophagy responses. Thus, Bax required 600 mM ethanol to migrate to mitochondria, a concentration that resulted in cell death. Furthermore, mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking this protein respond to ethanol by undergoing mitochondrial fission and autophagy but not cytotoxicity. Finally, by using the specific mitochondrial-targeted scavenger MitoQ, we revealed mitochondria as the main source of reactive oxygen species that trigger autophagy activation. These findings suggest that cells respond to ethanol activating mitochondrial fission machinery by Drp1 and OPA1 rather than bax, in a manner that stimulates cytoprotective autophagy through mitochondrial ROS.