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Alon Zahavi, Shirel Weiss, Mark Vieyra, James D. Nicholson, Orkun Muhsinoglu, Orit Barinfeld, David Zadok, Nitza Goldenberg-Cohen; Ocular Effects of Sildenafil in Naïve Mice and a Mouse Model of Optic Nerve Crush. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(6):1987-1995. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-26333.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To investigate the potential neuroprotective effect of sildenafil on the ocular circulation in mice with/without optic nerve crush (ONC).
Male adult mice (n = 63) were treated with intravitreal (IVT) sildenafil 24 μg/3 μL, intraperitoneal (IP) sildenafil 24 μg/300 μL, or IP saline immediately before right ONC induction (ONC group). A second group (n = 123) received the same treatments without ONC induction (naïve group). Evaluations included fluorescein angiography (naïve group; day 0), molecular studies (days 1 and 3), and retinal and optic nerve histology (day 21).
Maximal retinal vessel dilatation and increased choroidal effusion were detected within 30 minutes of sildenafil injection. In the ONC group, moderate retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss was noted at 21 days. However, molecular studies showed increased stress induced gene expression (IP superoxide dismutase [SOD]-1: 3.1-fold; heme oxygenase [HO]-1: 5.8-fold; IVT SOD-1: 1.47-fold), proapoptotic gene expression (IP BAX/B-cell lymphoma [BCL]-2 10.8-/2.3-fold), and glial gene expression (IP glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP]: 2.8- and myelin basic protein [MBP]: 2.5-fold). In the naïve group, IVT sildenafil was not associated with RGC loss or optic nerve stroke on histology, although in two samples, molecular parameters were compatible with stroke, showing increased gene expression of HO-1 (3.8-fold) and BCL-2 (2.5-fold). In the IP sildenafil subgroup, optic neuropathy was observed in 6/120 optic nerves, including 3 cyan fluorescence protein (CFP)-Thy-1 mice. Levels of antiapoptosis and anti-ischemia genes were decreased (<0.5-fold) except for three outliers.
Sildenafil affects retinal and choroidal perfusion in mice. When injected immediately before ONC, molecular parameters showed a preconditioning neuroprotective effect while histologic studies did not. In the absence of ONC, it is associated with neuropathy, possibly dose-dependent.
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