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Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 21;9(1):9057. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45510-7.

An in vitro pressure model towards studying the response of primary retinal ganglion cells to elevated hydrostatic pressures.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
2
HKU-Shenzhen Institute of Research and Innovation (HKU-SIRI), Shenzhen, Guangdong, 518000, China.
3
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Eye Hospital 147K Argyle Street Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.
4
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
5
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Eye Hospital 147K Argyle Street Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. cksleung@cuhk.edu.hk.
6
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. ashum@hku.hk.
7
HKU-Shenzhen Institute of Research and Innovation (HKU-SIRI), Shenzhen, Guangdong, 518000, China. ashum@hku.hk.

Abstract

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness characterized by progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). A well-established risk factor for the development and progression of glaucoma is elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP). However, how elevated IOP leads to RGC degeneration remains poorly understood. Here, we fabricate a facile, tunable hydrostatic pressure platform to study the effect of increased hydrostatic pressure on RGC axon and total neurite length, cell body area, dendritic branching, and cell survival. The hydrostatic pressure can be adjusted by varying the height of a liquid reservoir attached to a three-dimensional (3D)-printed adapter. The proposed platform enables long-term monitoring of primary RGCs in response to various pressure levels. Our results showed pressure-dependent changes in the axon length, and the total neurite length. The proportion of RGCs with neurite extensions significantly decreased by an average of 38 ± 2% (mean ± SEM) at pressures 30 mmHg and above (p < 0.05). The axon length and total neurite length decreased at a rate of 1.65 ± 0.18 μm and 4.07 ± 0.34 μm, respectively (p < 0.001), for each mmHg increase in pressure after 72 hours pressure treatment. Dendritic branching increased by 0.20 ± 0.05 intersections/day at pressures below 25 mmHg, and decreased by 0.07 ± 0.01 intersections/day at pressures above 25 mmHg (p < 0.001). There were no significant changes in cell body area under different levels of hydrostatic pressure (p ≥ 0.05). Application of this model will facilitate studies on the biophysical mechanisms that contribute to the pathophysiology of glaucoma and provide a channel for the screening of potential pharmacological agents for neuroprotection.

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