Alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, Glaucoma, Retina, Retinal ganglion cells, Acetylcholine, Nicotinic agonists




In this study, the neuroprotective effect of various nicotinic alpha7 acetylcholine receptor agonists in an in-vivo model of glaucoma using adult Long Evans rats was analyzed. Glaucoma-like conditions were induced in the eyes of Long Evans rats after injection of hypertonic saline into episcleral veins to create scar tissue and increase the animal’s intraocular pressure. This procedure produced significant loss of retinal ganglion cells within one month and was associated with an increase of intraocular pressure. Using this model system, various alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (a7 nAChR) agonists were applied at different doses as eye drops to the right eye of adult Long Evans rats while the left eye was left as an internal control. The a7 nAChR agonists used in this study prevented loss of RGCs in a dose dependent manner after the procedure to induce glaucoma-like conditions. PHA-543613 and PNU- 282987 provided the largest degree of RGC survival after inducing glaucomalike conditions, followed by nicotine, SEN 12333, tropisetron, 3-Bromocytisine and DMAB. To provide evidence that neuroprotection of RGCs was mediated through activation of a7 nAChR, in some studies different concentrations of the a7 nAChR antagonist, MLA, was intravitreally injected into experimentally treated eyes before initiation of eye drops and the procedure to induce glaucoma-like conditions. In the presence of MLA, RGC neuroprotection was blocked. Results from these studies suggest that selective a7 nAChR agonists may be used in future therapeutic treatments for glaucoma or other CNS diseases associated with a7 nAChRs.

Original Citation

Birkholz, P. J., Gossman, C. A., Webster, M. K., Linn, D. M., & Linn, C. L. (2016). Prevention of Glaucoma-Induced Retinal Ganglion Cell Loss Using Alpha7 nAChR Agonists. Journal of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, 1(1), 1003.

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