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Masahiro Tonari, Takuji Kurimoto, Taeko Horie, Tetsuya Sugiyama, Tsunehiko Ikeda, Hidehiro Oku; Blocking Endothelin-B Receptors Rescues Retinal Ganglion Cells from Optic Nerve Injury through Suppression of Neuroinflammation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(7):3490-3500. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-9415.
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The endothelins (ETs) cause reactive astrogliosis, which involves neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in the central nervous system. The purpose of this study was to determine whether blocking the ET signals will protect retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) from optic nerve injury.
We studied the effect of pretreatment with BQ-123, an antagonist of ETA receptors, and BQ-788, an antagonist of ETB receptors, on the survival of RGCs after the optic nerve of rats was crushed. We also performed immunohistological evaluations and real-time PCR of the crushed site to determine the expressions of the ET-1, CD68, GFAP, TNF-α, and iNOS genes in the neuroinflammation of the optic nerves.
The mRNA levels of the ETB receptors were upregulated (5.6-fold) on day 7 after crushing the optic nerves. Cells expressing ETB receptors were recruited mainly to the crushed site where the immunoreactivity to GFAP was weak. These cells were also immuunoreactive to ETs and CD68, a constitutive marker of microglia/macrophages. In the adjacent areas, immunoreactivity to GFAP was intense. Crushing the optic nerve increased the mRNA levels of ET-1 (4.5-fold), CD68 (87.5-fold), GFAP (2-fold), TNF-α (480-fold), and iNOS (6-fold) on day 7. Pretreatment with BQ-788 significantly suppressed the upregulation of these genes and loss of RGCs on day 7, whereas BQ-123 failed to protect the RGCs.
These results suggest that the microglia/macrophages recruited to the crushed site are the possible cellular sources of the ETs, which caused reciprocal activation of astrocytes. Blocking the ETB receptors by BQ-788 rescued RGCs, most likely by attenuating neuroinflammatory events.
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