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Vis Neurosci. 2007 Mar-Apr;24(2):127-39.

Alteration of retinal intrinsic survival signal and effect of alpha2-adrenergic receptor agonist in the retina of the chronic ocular hypertension rat.

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Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.


The purpose of this study is to examine the retinal expression of intrinsic cell survival molecules and to elucidate the effect of an alpha2-adrenergic receptor agonist in the chronic ocular hypertensive rat model. Chronic ocular hypertension was induced in both eyes of each rat by episcleral vein cauterization. Two five-microliter drops of the selective alpha2-adrenoceptor agonist brimonidine 0.2% (Alphagan; Allergan Inc., Irvine, CA, USA) were topically administered twice daily for up to eight weeks in one eye. The fellow eye received balanced salt solution as a control. Protein and mRNA expression were evaluated at 1, 4, and 8 weeks after injury. Retinal expression of BDNF, Akt, and GFAP was assessed using immunohistochemistry. Retinal levels of mRNA for BDNF, bcl-2, and bcl-xL were determined using semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) density was evaluated after retrograde labeling with 4-Di-10-ASP (DiA). A significant decrease in RGC density was observed in ocular hypertensive eyes. Cauterized eyes showed an increase in GFAP expression from one week after injury, and the expression of bcl-2, bcl-xL, and BDNF mRNA was also increased. Treatment of ocular hypertensive eyes with brimonidine resulted in a reduction in RGC loss, a decrease in the level of GFAP immunoreactivity, and an increment in BDNF mRNA and p-Akt expression. Brimonidine appears to protect RGCs from neurodegeneration through mechanisms involving alpha2-adrenergic receptor mediated survival signal activation and up-regulation of endogenous neurotrophic factor expression in the chronic ocular hypertensive rat retina.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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