The Influence of Melatonin and Light on VEGF Secretion in Primary RPE Cells
(1) Background: Retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) cells constitutively secrete vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the retina, protecting the neuronal cells and the choroid. Increased VEGF secretion, however, can result in neovascularization and edema. Many factors regulate VEGF secretion. In this study, we investigated the effect of external stimuli in relation to diurnal rhythm on constitutive VEGF secretion. (2) Methods: Single-eye RPE cell culture was prepared from porcine eyes. RPE cells were cultured in darkness, treated with daylight or room light, and treated with melatonin at different time frames, either respectively or in combination. Supernatants were collected and VEGF content evaluated using ELISA. Expression of the clock protein BMAL1 was evaluated with Western blot. (3) Results: VEGF secretion of the RPE shows a diurnal rhythm. While the rhythm is not influenced by either light or melatonin, the amount of secreted VEGF can be increased by nocturnal melatonin, especially in combination with morning daylight. These findings disclose another layer of VEGF regulation in the retina.