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The ying and yang of idebenone: Not too little, not too much - cell death in NQO1 deficient cells and the mouse retina

Varricchio, C. ORCID:, Beirne, K., Heard, C. ORCID:, Newland, B. ORCID:, Rozanowska, M. ORCID:, Brancale, A. ORCID: and Votruba, M. ORCID: 2020. The ying and yang of idebenone: Not too little, not too much - cell death in NQO1 deficient cells and the mouse retina. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 152 , pp. 551-560. 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.11.030

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Idebenone has recently been investigated as a drug therapy for Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), a rare genetic mitochondrial disease that causes rapid and progressive bilateral vision loss. Although several studies have shown that idebenone can promote vision recovery in patients with LHON, the evidence for the efficacy of idebenone is still limited. Idebenone failed to demonstrate superiority over placebo in the primary end-points of the only published randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. There appears to be a patient-specific response to idebenone with high variability in therapeutic outcomes. A recent study suggested that the cytosolic enzyme NAD(P)H: quinone acceptor oxidoreductase (NQO1) is the major enzyme involved in the activation of idebenone, and the beneficial effects of idebenone are dependent on the expression of NQO1. Here, we confirm the NQO1-dependent activity of idebenone, but we also show, for the first time, that the cytotoxicity of idebenone is linked to cellular expression of NQO1. Upon idebenone administration, cells deficient in NQO1 show a marked decrease in viability in comparison to NQO1 expressing cells, with idebenone causing ROS production and deleterious effects on ATP levels and cell viability. In addition, our data highlights that only cells expressing NQO1 can significantly activate idebenone, indicating that other proposed metabolic activation pathways, such as complex II and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, do not play a significant role in idebenone activation. Furthermore, we provide evidence of idebenone-induced toxicity in the retina ex-vivo, which can be explained by the variation of NQO1 expression between different cell types in the mouse retina. Idebenone mediated cell rescue in the rotenone ex vivo model also indicated that this drug has a narrow therapeutic window. These findings will help to guide the development of future therapies and drug delivery strategies including intra-ocular administration. The specific dependence of idebenone activity on NQO1 may also explain the variation in patient outcomes in clinical trials.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Pharmacy
Optometry and Vision Sciences
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0891-5849
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 December 2019
Date of Acceptance: 23 November 2019
Last Modified: 27 May 2024 11:58

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