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Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:5712341. doi: 10.1155/2017/5712341. Epub 2017 Jan 22.

Epigenetics and Signaling Pathways in Glaucoma.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. This neurodegenerative disease becomes more prevalent with aging, but predisposing genetic and environmental factors also contribute to increased risk. Emerging evidence now suggests that epigenetics may also be involved, which provides potential new therapeutic targets. These three factors work through several pathways, including TGF-β, MAP kinase, Rho kinase, BDNF, JNK, PI-3/Akt, PTEN, Bcl-2, Caspase, and Calcium-Calpain signaling. Together, these pathways result in the upregulation of proapoptotic gene expression, the downregulation of neuroprotective and prosurvival factors, and the generation of fibrosis at the trabecular meshwork, which may block aqueous humor drainage. Novel therapeutic agents targeting these pathway members have shown preliminary success in animal models and even human trials, demonstrating that they may eventually be used to preserve retinal neurons and vision.

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