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PLoS One. 2014 Oct 17;9(10):e110397. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110397. eCollection 2014.

Regulation of nitric oxide production by δ-opioid receptors during glaucomatous injury.

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Hewitt Laboratory of the Ola B. Williams Glaucoma Center, Department of Ophthalmology, Storm Eye Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, United States of America.


To determine the roles of nitric oxide in glaucomatous injury and its regulation by δ-opioid-receptor activation, animals were treated with: 1) a selective inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor (aminoguanidine; AG; 25 mg/kg, i.p.); 2) δ-opioid-receptor agonist (SNC-121; 1 mg/kg, i.p.); or 3) with both drugs simultaneously for 7 days, once daily. The loss in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) numbers and their function in glaucomatous eyes were significantly improved in the presence of AG or SNC-121; however, we did not see any significant additive or synergistic effects when animals were treated with both drugs simultaneously. The levels of nitrate-nitrite were significantly increased in the glaucomatous retina when compared with normal retina (normal retina 86±9 vs. glaucomatous retina 174±10 mM/mg protein), which was reduced significantly when animals were treated either with SNC-121 (121±7 mM/mg protein; P<0.05) or AG (128±10 mM/mg protein; P<0.05). Additionally, SNC-121-mediated reduction in nitrate-nitrite levels was not only blocked by naltrindole (a δ-opioid-receptor antagonist), but naltrindole treatment potentiated the nitrate-nitrite production in glaucomatous retina (235±4 mM/mg protein; P<0.001). As expected, naltrindole treatment also fully-blocked SNC-121-mediated retina neuroprotection. The nitrotyrosine level in the glaucomatous retina was also increased, which was significantly reduced in the SNC-121-treated animals. Additionally, the expression level of iNOS was clearly increased over the control levels in the glaucomatous retina and optic nerves, which was also reduced by SNC-121 treatment. In conclusion, our data support the notion that nitric oxide plays a detrimental role during glaucomatous injury and inhibition of nitric oxide production provided RGC neuroprotection. Furthermore, δ-opioid receptor activation regulates the production of nitric oxide via inhibiting the activity of iNOS in the retina and optic nerve.

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