Implication of hyperhomocysteinemia in blood retinal barrier (BRB) dysfunction

Amany Tawfik, Yara A. Samra, Nehal M. Elsherbiny, Mohamed Al-Shabrawey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Elevated plasma homocysteine (Hcy) level, known as hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) has been linked to different systemic and neurological diseases, well-known as a risk factor for systemic atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and has been identified as a risk factor for several ocular disorders, such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Different mechanisms have been proposed to explain HHcy-induced visual dysfunction, including oxidative stress, upregulation of inflammatory mediators, retinal ganglion cell apoptosis, and extracellular matrix remodeling. Our previous studies using in vivo and in vitro models of HHcy have demonstrated that Hcy impairs the function of both inner and outer blood retinal barrier (BRB). Dysfunction of BRB is a hallmark of vision loss in DR and AMD. Our findings highlighted oxidative stress, ER stress, inflammation, and epigenetic modifications as possible mechanisms of HHcy-induced BRB dysfunction. In addition, we recently reported HHcy-induced brain inflammation as a mechanism of blood–brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction and pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Moreover, we are currently investigating the activation of glutamate receptor N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) as the molecular mechanism for HHcy-induced BRB dysfunction. This review focuses on the studied effects of HHcy on BRB and the controversial role of HHcy in the pathogenesis of aging neurological diseases such as DR, AMD, and AD. We also highlight the possible mechanisms for such deleterious effects of HHcy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1119
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Blood brain barrier
  • Blood retinal barrier
  • Dysfunction
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia
  • Mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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