Protection of mouse retinal ganglion cell axons and soma from glaucomatous and ischemic injury by cytoplasmic overexpression of Nmnat1

Yanli Zhu, Lihong Zhang, Yo Sasaki, Jeffrey Milbrandt, Jeffrey M. Gidday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose. The Wlds mutation affords protection of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons in retinal ischemia and in inducible and hereditary preclinical models of glaucoma. We undertook the present study to determine whether the Nmnat1 portion of the chimeric protein provides axonal and somatic protection of RGCs in models of ischemia and glaucoma, particularly when localized to nonnuclear regions of the cell. Methods. The survival and integrity of RGC axons and soma from transgenic mice with confirmed cytoplasmic overexpres-sion of Nmnat1 in retina and optic nerve (cytNmnat1-Tg mice) were examined in the retina and postlaminar optic nerve 4 days following acute retinal ischemia, and 3 weeks following the chronic elevation of intraocular pressure. Results. Ischemia- and glaucoma-induced disruptions of proximal segments of RGC axons that comprise the nerve fiber layer in wild-type mice were both robustly abrogated in cytNmnat1-Tg mice. More distal portions of RGC axons within the optic nerve were also protected from glaucomatous disruption in the transgenic mice. In both disease models, Nmnat1 overexpression in extranuclear locations significantly enhanced the survival of RGC soma. Conclusions. Overexpression of Nmnat1 in the cytoplasm and axons of RGCs robustly protected against both ischemic and glaucomatous loss of RGC axonal integrity, as well as loss of RGC soma. These findings reflect the more pan-cellular protection of CNS neurons that is realized by cytoplasmic Nmnat1 expression, and thus provide a therapeutic strategy for protecting against retinal neurodegeneration, and perhaps other CNS neurodegenerative diseases as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

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