Reduced folate carrier 1 is present in retinal microvessels and crucial for the inner blood retinal barrier integrity

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Gurler G., BELDER N., BEKER M. Ç., Sever-Bahcekapili M., Uruk G., Kilic E., ...More

Fluids and Barriers of the CNS, vol.20, no.1, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12987-023-00442-3
  • Journal Name: Fluids and Barriers of the CNS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Blood-retina barrier, Lentiviral vector, Pericyte, Retinal ischemia, RFC1, siRNA, Trypsin digestion
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Reduced folate carrier 1 (RFC1; SLC19a1) is the main responsible transporter for the B9 family of vitamins named folates, which are essential for normal tissue growth and development. While folate deficiency resulted in retinal vasculopathy, the expression and the role of RFC1 in blood-retinal barrier (BRB) are not well known. Methods: We used whole mount retinas and trypsin digested microvessel samples of adult mice. To knockdown RFC1, we delivered RFC1-targeted short interfering RNA (RFC1-siRNA) intravitreally; while, to upregulate RFC1 we delivered lentiviral vector overexpressing RFC1. Retinal ischemia was induced 1-h by applying FeCl3 to central retinal artery. We used RT-qPCR and Western blotting to determine RFC1. Endothelium (CD31), pericytes (PDGFR-beta, CD13, NG2), tight-junctions (Occludin, Claudin-5 and ZO-1), main basal membrane protein (Collagen-4), endogenous IgG and RFC1 were determined immunohistochemically. Results: Our analyses on whole mount retinas and trypsin digested microvessel samples of adult mice revealed the presence of RFC1 in the inner BRB and colocalization with endothelial cells and pericytes. Knocking down RFC1 expression via siRNA delivery resulted in the disintegration of tight junction proteins and collagen-4 in twenty-four hours, which was accompanied by significant endogenous IgG extravasation. This indicated the impairment of BRB integrity after an abrupt RFC1 decrease. Furthermore, lentiviral vector-mediated RFC1 overexpression resulted in increased tight junction proteins and collagen-4, confirming the structural role of RFC1 in the inner BRB. Acute retinal ischemia decreased collagen-4 and occludin levels and led to an increase in RFC1. Besides, the pre-ischemic overexpression of RFC1 partially rescued collagen-4 and occludin levels which would be decreased after ischemia. Conclusion: In conclusion, our study clarifies the presence of RFC1 protein in the inner BRB, which has recently been defined as hypoxia–immune-related gene in other tissues and offers a novel perspective of retinal RFC1. Hence, other than being a folate carrier, RFC1 is an acute regulator of the inner BRB in healthy and ischemic retinas.