Purpose. Retinopathy is an important manifestation of trifunctional protein (TFP) deficiencies but not of other defects of fatty acid oxidation. The common homozygous mutation in the TFP a-subunit gene HADHA (hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase), c.1528G>C, affects the long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase (LCHAD) activity of TFP and blindness in infancy. The pathogenesis of the retinopathy is unknown. This study aimed to utilize human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology to create a disease model for the disorder, and to derive clues for retinopathy pathogenesis. Methods. We implemented hiPSC technology to generate LCHAD deficiency (LCHADD) patient-specific retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) monolayers. These patient and control RPEs were extensively characterized for function and structure, as well as for lipid composition by mass spectrometry. Results. The hiPSC-derived RPE monolayers of patients and controls were functional, as they both were able to phagocytose the photoreceptor outer segments in vitro. Interestingly, the patient RPEs had intense cytoplasmic neutral lipid accumulation, and lipidomic analysis revealed an increased triglyceride accumulation. Further, patient RPEs were small and irregular in shape, and their tight junctions were disorganized. Their ultratructure showed decreased pigmentation, few melanosomes, and more melanolysosomes. Conclusions. We demonstrate that the RPE cell model reveals novel early pathogenic changes in LCHADD retinopathy, with robust lipid accumulation, inefficient pigmentation that is evident soon after differentiation, and a defect in forming tight junctions inducing apoptosis. We propose that LCHADD-RPEs are an important model for mitochondrial TFP retinopathy, and that their early pathogenic changes contribute to infantile blindness of LCHADD.
- beta oxidation
- retinal pigment epithelium