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Oday Alsarraf, Jie Fan, Mohammad Dahrouj, C. James Chou, Phillip W. Yates, Craig E. Crosson; Acetylation Preserves Retinal Ganglion Cell Structure and Function in a Chronic Model of Ocular Hypertension. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(11):7486-7493. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.14-14792.
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The current studies investigate if the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, valproic acid (VPA), can limit retinal ganglion cell (RGC) degeneration in an ocular-hypertensive rat model.
Intraocular pressure (IOP) was elevated unilaterally in Brown Norway rats by hypertonic saline injection. Rats received either vehicle or VPA (100 mg/kg) treatment for 28 days. Retinal ganglion cell function and number were assessed by pattern electroretinogram (pERG) and retrograde FluoroGold labeling. Western blotting and a fluorescence assay were used for determination of histone H3 acetylation and HDAC activity, respectively, at 3-day, 1-week, and 2-week time points.
Hypertonic saline injections increased IOPs by 7 to 14 mm Hg. In vehicle-treated animals, ocular hypertension resulted in a 29.1% and 39.4% decrease in pERG amplitudes at 2 and 4 weeks, respectively, and a 42.9% decrease in mean RGC density at 4 weeks. In comparison, VPA treatment yielded significant amplitude preservation at 2 and 4 weeks and showed significant RGC density preservation at 4 weeks. No significant difference in RGC densities or IOPs was measured between control eyes of vehicle- and VPA-treated rats. In ocular-hypertensive eyes, class I HDAC activity was significantly elevated within 1 week (13.3 ± 2.2%) and histone H3 acetylation was significantly reduced within 2 weeks following the induction of ocular hypertension.
Increase in HDAC activity is a relatively early retinal event induced by elevated IOP, and suppressing HDAC activity can protect RGCs from ocular-hypertensive stress. Together these data provide a basis for developing HDAC inhibitors for the treatment of optic neuropathies.
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