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Exp Eye Res. 2011 Aug;93(2):204-12. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2010.07.015. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Mitochondrial dysfunction in glaucoma and emerging bioenergetic therapies.

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Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, 32 Gisborne Street East, Melbourne, Victoria 3002, Australia.


The similarities between glaucoma and mitochondrial optic neuropathies have driven a growing interest in exploring mitochondrial function in glaucoma. The specific loss of retinal ganglion cells is a common feature of mitochondrial diseases - not only the classic mitochondrial optic neuropathies of Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy - but also occurring together with more severe central nervous system involvement in many other syndromic mitochondrial diseases. The retinal ganglion cell, due to peculiar structural and energetic constraints, appears acutely susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondrial function is also well known to decline with aging in post-mitotic tissues including neurons. Because age is a risk factor for glaucoma this adds another impetus to investigating mitochondria in this common and heterogeneous neurodegenerative disease. Mitochondrial function may be impaired by either nuclear gene or mitochondrial DNA genetic risk factors, by mechanical stress or chronic hypoperfusion consequent to the commonly raised intraocular pressure in glaucomatous eyes, or by toxic xenobiotic or even light-induced oxidative stress. If primary or secondary mitochondrial dysfunction is further established as contributing to glaucoma pathogenesis, emerging therapies aimed at optimizing mitochondrial function represent potentially exciting new clinical treatments that may slow retinal ganglion cell and vision loss in glaucoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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