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Exp Eye Res. 2006 Sep;83(3):629-37. Epub 2006 May 4.

Intravitreal injection of endothelin-1 caused optic nerve damage following to ocular hypoperfusion in rabbits.

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  • 1Glaucoma Group, Research and Development Center, Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., 8916-16 Takayama-cho, Ikoma 630-0101, Japan.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the time course of the ocular hypoperfusion, retinal damage, and optic nerve damage induced by intravitreal injection of endothelin-1 (ET-1) in rabbits. ET-1, at 5 pmol (20 microL, twice a week for 2 or 4 weeks), was injected from the pars plana into the posterior vitreous of the right eye. Optic nerve head (ONH) blood flow and retinal artery diameter, together with the neurofilament light chain (NF-L) content, retinal morphology, and axon density of the optic nerve, were evaluated at 2, 4, and 8 weeks after the first injection of ET-1 (n=7 or 8). Tissue blood velocity in ONH was measured using a laser speckle method, and the diameter of major retinal arteries on the rim of the ONH was calculated from fundus photographs by a masked observer. Histological analysis and immunoblot evaluation of NF-L in the optic nerve were performed to evaluate optic nerve damage. At 2 weeks after the first ET-1 injection, tissue blood velocity was decreased by approximately 20% (versus the contralateral eye), and the diameter of retinal arteries had decreased by approximately 40%. These changes were sustained at the same level until 8 weeks after the first ET-1 injection. At 4 and 8 weeks after the first ET-1 injection, the amount of NF-L in the optic nerve was significantly less in the ET-1 treated eyes than in the contralateral eyes. At 8 weeks after the first ET-1 injection, a loss of myelinated axons and increases in gliosis and connective tissue were noted in the optic nerve of the treated eye, and the optic nerve-axon number had decreased significantly (each, versus the untreated eye). Retinal ganglion cells in the retina were not observed any damage at 2, 4, and 8 weeks after ET-1 injection. In conclusion, intravitreal injection of ET-1 induced chronic hypoperfusion in the ONH and retina, which presumably caused decreases in NF-L content and axon number in the optic nerve noted in the later part of the observation period.

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