IMR Press / FBL / Volume 8 / Issue 6 / DOI: 10.2741/1172

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Open Access Article
Glaucoma: ocular Alzheimer's disease?
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1 Departments of Ophthalmology and Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, MC 6230, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA

Academic Editor: Alexander Ljubimov

Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2003, 8(6), 1140–1156;
Published: 1 September 2003
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular mechanisms of eye diseases)

Glaucoma is a chronic neurodegeneration of the optic nerve and one of the leading causes of vision loss in the world among the aging. Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) have been shown to die by apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Central to apoptosis is the activation of specific proteases, termed caspases. Caspases are activated in chronic neurodegenerations such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) as well as in RGCs after optic nerve transection. In rat glaucoma models we have shown that caspase-3, a major effector of the apoptotic cascade, is activated in RGCs and cleaves amyloid precursor protein (APP) to produce neurotoxic fragments that include amyloid-beta. Caspase-8, which initiates apoptosis after activation of receptors of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily, is also activated in RGCs. This suggests a new hypothesis for RGC death in glaucoma involving chronic amyloid-beta neurotoxicity, mimicking AD at the molecular level. With loss of the protective effect of APP and upregulation of toxic APP fragments, RGCs die from chronic caspase activation, loss of synaptic homeostasis, amyloid-beta cytotoxicity and excitotoxicity. The benefits are that treatments for AD could be used to treat glaucoma, and strategies developed to treat glaucoma could treat other neurodegenerations.

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