Will a protein helps in preventing Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an ocular disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. It occurs when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, leads to damage to the optic nerve leads to disrupts the transmission of visual signals to the brain, which can result in vision loss and blindness. However, the precise mechanisms by which optic nerve damage occurs have been unclear, but researchers from Macquarie University in Australia may have shed some light.
The team of scientist found that a protein called neuroserpin plays a key role in retinal health, but this protein is inactivated in glaucoma. They suggest that their findings may lead to much-needed strategies to prevent and treat the disease.
Lead study author Dr Vivek Gupta, of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University, and colleagues recently published their results in the journal Scientific Reports.
Neuroserpin and glaucoma
Neuroserpin is already established as a protein that blocks the activity of an enzyme called plasmin, protecting neurons, or nerve cells, against plasmin-induced damage.
For their study, Dr Gupta and colleagues set out to determine how neuroserpin and plasmin are affected in glaucoma.
The researchers came to their findings by analyzing retinal cells derived from humans with and without glaucoma, as well as retinas from rat models of the disease.
Oxidative stress is a mechanism, that a body performs an imbalance between the production of free radicals and decrease in the counteract for that.
Interestingly, the researchers found that neuroserpin was inactive in retinal cells from glaucoma patients and in the retinas of glaucoma rat models, which prevented the protein from inhibiting plasmin activity.
“Over a long period of time,” explains Dr Gupta, “increased enzyme activity gradually digests the eye tissue and promotes cell death causing the adverse effects associated with glaucoma.”
It is estimated that glaucoma affects around 2.2 million adults aged 40 and older in the United States, and it is one of the country’s leading causes of vision loss and blindness.
There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but there are treatments that can help to slow progression of the disease if it is detected early enough.
Dr Gupta and team hope that their findings will open the door to new strategies that could help to prevent or treat glaucoma.
“Ophthalmologists and vision scientists have always wondered what damages the optic nerve in the back of the eyes, which is widely observed in glaucoma,” notes study co-author Dr Mehdi Mirzaei, of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences at Macquarie University.