Inhibition of Rho-associated protein kinase activity enhances oxidative phosphorylation to support corneal endothelial cell migration

Wei Ting Ho, Jung Shen Chang, Tsan Chi Chen, Jia Kang Wang, Shu Wen Chang, Muh Hwa Yang, Tzuu Shuh Jou, I. Jong Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Corneal endothelial cell (CEC) dysfunction causes corneal edema and severe visual impairment that require transplantation to restore vision. To address the unmet need of organ shortage, descemetorhexis without endothelial keratoplasty has been specifically employed to treat early stage Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, which is pathophysiologically related to oxidative stress and exhibits centrally located corneal guttae. After stripping off central Descemet's membrane, rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) inhibitor has been found to facilitate CEC migration, an energy-demanding task, thereby achieving wound closure. However, the correlation between ROCK inhibition and the change in bioenergetic status of CECs remained to be elucidated. Through transcriptomic profiling, we found that the inhibition of ROCK activity by the selective inhibitor, ripasudil or Y27632, promoted enrichment of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) gene set in bovine CECs (BCECs). Functional analysis revealed that ripasudil, a clinically approved anti-glaucoma agent, enhanced mitochondrial respiration, increased spare respiratory capacity, and induced overexpression of electron transport chain components through upregulation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. Accelerated BCEC migration and in vitro wound healing by ripasudil were diminished by OXPHOS and AMPK inhibition, but not by glycolysis inhibition. Correspondingly, lamellipodial protrusion and actin assembly that were augmented by ripasudil became reduced with additional OXPHOS or AMPK inhibition. These results indicate that ROCK inhibition induces metabolic reprogramming toward OXPHOS to support migration of CECs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22397
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • AMP-activated protein kinase
  • cell migration
  • corneal endothelial cell
  • mitochondria
  • oxidative phosphorylation
  • rho-associated protein kinase


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