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Jing Zhao, Barbara A. Mysona, Azam Qureshi, Lily Kim, Taylor Fields, Graydon B. Gonsalvez, Sylvia B. Smith, Kathryn E. Bollinger; (+)-Pentazocine Reduces NMDA-Induced Murine Retinal Ganglion Cell Death Through a σR1-Dependent Mechanism. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(2):453-461. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-18565.
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To evaluate, in vivo, the effects of the sigma-1 receptor (σR1) agonist, (+)-pentazocine, on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-mediated retinal excitotoxicity.
Intravitreal NMDA injections were performed in C57BL/6J mice (wild type [WT]) and σR1−/− (σR1 knockout [KO]) mice. Fellow eyes were injected with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). An experimental cohort of WT and σR1 KO mice was administered (+)-pentazocine by intraperitoneal injection, and untreated animals served as controls. Retinas derived from mice were flat-mounted and labeled for retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The number of RGCs was compared between NMDA and PBS-injected eyes for all groups. Apoptosis was assessed using TUNEL assay. Levels of extracellular-signal–regulated kinases (ERK1/2) were analyzed by Western blot.
N-methyl-D-aspartate induced a significant increase in TUNEL-positive nuclei and a dose-dependent loss of RGCs. Mice deficient in σR1 showed greater RGC loss (≈80%) than WT animals (≈50%). (+)-Pentazocine treatment promoted neuronal survival, and this effect was prevented by deletion of σR1. (+)-Pentazocine treatment resulted in enhanced activation of ERK at the 6-hour time point following NMDA injection. The (+)-pentazocine–induced ERK activation was diminished in σR1 KO mice.
Targeting σR1 activation prevented RGC death while enhancing activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), ERK1/2. Sigma-1 receptor is a promising therapeutic target for retinal neurodegenerative diseases.
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