Contribution of autophagy to ocular hypertension and neurodegeneration in the DBA/2J spontaneous glaucoma mouse model.
Glaucoma is a progressive optic neuropathy characterized by axonal degeneration and retinal ganglion cells loss. Several factors have been postulated to play a role in glaucoma, elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) being the best well-known causative factor. The mechanisms leading to ocular hypertension and glaucoma are still not fully understood. An increasing number of evidence indicates a role of autophagy in the pathophysiological process of ocular hypertension and glaucoma. However, while all of the studies agree that autophagy is induced in RGCs in response to injury, autophagy was found to either protect or promote cell death depending on the experimental model used. In order to gain more insight into both, the role of autophagy in the pathogenesis of glaucoma and the effect of chronic IOP elevation in the autophagy pathway, we have investigated here for the first time autophagy in the iridocorneal angle region, retinal ganglion cell bodies, and ON axons in the spontaneous ocular hypertensive DBA/2J mouse glaucoma model and in the transgenic DBA/2J::GFP-LC3 mice, generated in our laboratory. Our results indicate decreased autophagic flux in the outflow pathway cells in the DBA/2J mice, characterized by increased levels of LC3-II and p62 together with a decrease in the lysosomal marker LAMP1, evaluated by western blot and immunofluorescence. Elevated presence of autophagic vacuoles in the DBA/2J and, in particular, in the DBA/2J::GFP-LC3 mice was also observed. Expression of the GFP-LC3 transgene was associated to higher cumulative IOP in the DBA/2J background. In addition to higher elevation in IOP, DBA/2J::GFP-LC3 were characterized by further RGCs and exacerbated axonal degeneration compared to DBA/2J. This was accompanied by the notable high presence of autophagic figures within degenerating axons. These results strongly suggest overactivation of autophagy as a potential cellular mechanism leading to ON degeneration in the chronic hypertensive DBA/2J mice.
Hirt, J; Porter, K; Dixon, A; McKinnon, S; Liton, PB
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)