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Exp Eye Res. 1999 Jan;68(1):29-40.

Enhanced tenascin expression associated with reactive astrocytes in human optic nerve heads with primary open angle glaucoma.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.


Tenascin is a large extracellular matrix glycoprotein expressed in neural and non-neural tissues. In the central nervous system, tenascin is synthesized by astrocytes during development and wound healing, forming barriers and affecting neurite outgrowth. In this study we examined tenascin expression in optic nerve heads of normal and glaucomatous eyes and found that there is upregulation of tenascin mRNA and protein in reactive astrocytes from human glaucomatous optic nerve heads compared to normal age-matched controls. In the prelaminar region there was a band of tenascin immunoreactivity around the blood vessels of glaucomatous, but not in normal eyes. However, tenascin mRNA was only localized to astrocytes, suggesting that astrocytes are the cellular source of tenascin. In the lamina cribrosa, tenascin immunoreactivity and gene expression were localized to astrocytes in the cribriform plates and inside the nerve bundles. In the post-lamina region, tenascin immunoreactivity and gene expression were localized to astrocytes lining the pial septum immediately adjacent to the lamina cribrosa. In normal optic nerve heads, tenascin expression at the mRNA and protein levels was confined to clusters of astrocytes at the level of Bruch's membrane in the prelaminar optic nerve head. In glaucoma, enhanced expression of tenascin may be protective to the axons of the retinal ganglion cells by providing a barrier for humoral and/or blood-borne factors that may cause further neural damage. However, the precise role of tenascin in glaucomatous optic neuropathy is not yet elucidated.

Copyright 1999 Academic Press.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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