Autophagy in the Aging and Experimental Ocular Hypertensive Mouse Model.
Purpose: To investigate autophagy in the outflow pathway and ganglion cell layer in the aging and ocular hypertensive mouse. Methods: Both 4-month-old and 18-month-old C57BL/6J and GFP-LC3 mice were subjected to unilateral injection of hypertonic saline into a limbal vein, causing sclerosis of the outflow pathway and subsequent elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP). IOP was measured on a weekly basis using a rebound tonometer. Protein expression levels of LC3B, Lamp1, and p62 were evaluated by western blot and/or immunofluorescence. Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) count was performed in whole retinal flat mounts using an anti-Brn3a antibody. Optic nerves were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde and resin-embedded for axon counts and electron microscopy. Results: In contrast to 18-month-old mice, which developed sustained elevated IOP with a single injection, 4-month-old mice were refractory to high elevations of IOP. Interestingly, both the percentage of animals that developed elevated IOP and the mean ∆IOP were significantly higher in the transgenic mice compared to C57BL/6J. Immunofluorescence and western blot analysis showed dysregulated autophagy in the iridocorneal and retina tissues from 18-month-old mice compared to 4-month-old ones. Moreover, the LC3-II/LC3-I ratio correlated with IOP. As expected, injected hypertensive eyes displayed axonal degeneration and RGC death. RGC and axon loss were significantly exacerbated with aging, especially when combined with GFP-LC3 expression. Autophagic structures were observed in the degenerating axons. Conclusions: Our results indicate dysregulation of autophagy in the trabecular meshwork and retinal tissues with aging and suggest that such dysregulation of autophagy contributes to neurodegeneration in glaucoma.
Nettesheim, A; Dixon, A; Shim, MS; Coyne, A; Walsh, M; Liton, PB
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