June 2023
Volume 64, Issue 8
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2023
Tree shrew model of glaucoma and RGC replacement
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brian C. Samuels
    Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Brian Samuels Heidelberg Engineering, Inc., Code F (Financial Support)
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH Grants R21EY026218, R01EY027759, U24EY029893, EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, and Research to Prevent Blindness
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2023, Vol.64, 928. doi:
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      Brian C. Samuels; Tree shrew model of glaucoma and RGC replacement. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2023;64(8):928.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Presentation Description : Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. Additional research is needed to fully understand the pathology underlying this disease and its progression. While non-human primates and rodents are the most commonly used animal models for the study of glaucoma, each have drawbacks. Tree shrews (tupaia belangeri) have been used for decades in the study of myopia, and they offer an alternative for glaucoma research with several advantages over existing models. Tree shrews have been classified as para-primates due to their brain and eye anatomy as well as other characteristics. Genetic analysis confirms they are more similar to primates than rodents. Importantly, they possess a load-bearing collagenous lamina cribrosa, an anatomic structure within the optic nerve head that is critical to the pathogenesis of glaucoma. Additionally, the optical properties of the tree shrew eye allow for exceptional image quality when capturing optical coherence tomography (OCT) images. With a cone-dominant retina, tree shrews are also an attractive model when considering stem cell and cell based approaches to photoreceptor and RCG repopulation.

Using a magnetic bead occlusion model, we were able to induce a moderate sustained level of ocular hypertension in the tree shrews. Intraocular pressure was measured every 2 weeks for 3 months. Additionally, radial OCT scans of the optic nerve head and circumpapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) scans were also obtained every 2 weeks during that time. The ocular hypertension resulted in loss of retinal ganglion cells, apparent cupping of the optic nerve head, and an optic neuropathy that resembled the human condition on histopathologic analysis. Additional work with our collaborators has focused on investigating both allograft and xenograft transplants of retinal ganglion cells into the tree shrew retina. The tree shrew is a viable model for the study of glaucoma and has promise as a model for the study of RGC repopulation in various ophthalmic diseases.

This abstract was presented at the 2023 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in New Orleans, LA, April 23-27, 2023.


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