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Exp Eye Res. 1987 Apr;44(4):537-51.

Optic nerve head axonal transport in rabbits with hereditary glaucoma.

Abstract

Rabbits with hereditary glaucoma develop ocular changes that resemble human congenital glaucoma and buphthalmia. The inheritance is autosomal recessive (bu). Previous research was performed primarily on albino bu/bu rabbits that were unhealthy and bred poorly. We have bred pigmented bu/bu rabbits to determine if this would improve hardiness and provide a better model for the disease in humans. First-generation offspring from matings of bu/bu albino with bu/bu pigmented rabbits were all affected, indicating that the bu gene is found at the same locus in both strains. The pigmented bu/bu offspring had a high degree of mortality, as reported previously for albino bu/bu rabbits. Newborn bu/bu rabbits initially had normal intraocular pressure (IOP; 15-23 mmHg); after 1- to 3 months, the IOP increased to 26-48 mmHg. The eyes became buphthalmic and the IOP returned to normal or sub-normal levels after 6-10 months. Since the lamina cribrosa is absent or poorly formed in the rabbit optic nerve head (ONH), this model was used to test the role of mechanical factors in the etiology of ONH pathology caused by increased IOP. Orthograde axonal transport was evaluated in both eyes from eight normal and 24 bu/bu rabbits of different ages, using intravitreal injections of [3H]leucine to mark orthograde axonal transport, followed by light- and electron-microscopic radioautography of the ONHs and superior colliculi. Normal rabbits of all ages showed no blockage of axonal transport in the ONH. All optic axons from young bu/bu rabbits with normal IOP and most axons from older buphthalmic rabbits that previously had elevated IOP were normal morphologically. Small zones of transport blockage occurred in bu/bu eyes while IOP was elevated; most affected axons lay immediately adjacent to ONH connective tissue beams that radiate outward from the central retinal vessels to the optic-nerve sheath. Thus, the rabbit, which lacks a true lamina cribrosa, does not show marked blockage of axonal transport as occurs in the LS of the monkey and cat ONH when IOP is elevated acutely. This anatomic difference appears to be protective against axonal damage, since bu/bu rabbits with chronic IOP elevation did not show significant loss of optic axons. These results are consistent with the proposed 'mechanical' theory of ONH damage resulting from increased IOP. Electron-microscopic radioautography revealed that chronically elevated IOP in bu/bu rabbits, which caused small foci of blocked ONH axonal transport against ONH beams, also caused degeneration of a few optic nerve terminals in the superior colliculi as the disease progressed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

PMID:
2439361
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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