Companion Diagnosis for Retinal Neuroprotective Treatment by Real-Time Imaging of Calpain Activation Using a Novel Fluorescent Probe

Toshifumi Asano, Yuri Nagayo, Satoru Tsuda, Azusa Ito, Wataru Kobayashi, Kosuke Fujita, Kota Sato, Koji Nishiguchi, Hiroshi Kunikata, Hiroyoshi Fujioka, Mako Kamiya, Yasuteru Urano, Toru Nakazawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Calpain activation induces retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death, while calpain inhibition suppresses RGC death, in animal studies. However, the role of calpain in human retinal disease is unclear. This study investigated a new strategy to study the role of calpain based on real-time imaging. We synthesized a novel fluorescent probe for calpain, acetyl-l-leucyl-l-methionine-hydroxymethyl rhodamine green (Ac-LM-HMRG) and used it for real-time imaging of calpain activation. The toxicity of Ac-LM-HMRG was evaluated with a lactate dehydrogenase cytotoxicity assay, retinal sections, and electroretinograms. Here, we performed real-time imaging of calpain activation in a rat model. First, we administered N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) to induce retinal injury. Twenty minutes later, we administered an intravitreal injection of Ac-LM-HMRG. Real-time imaging was then completed with a noninvasive confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope. The inhibitory effect of SNJ-1945 against calpain activation was also examined with the same real-time imaging method. Ac-LM-HMRG had no toxic effects. The number of Ac-LM-HMRG-positive cells in real-time imaging significantly increased after NMDA injury, and SNJ-1945 significantly lowered the number of Ac-LM-HMRG-positive cells. Real-time imaging with Ac-LM-HMRG was able to quickly quantify the NMDA-induced activation of calpain and the inhibitory effect of SNJ-1945. This technique, used as a companion diagnostic system, may aid research into the development of new neuroprotective therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2241-2251
Number of pages11
JournalBioconjugate chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep 16

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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