Retinal ganglion cell neuroprotection in a rat model of glaucoma following brimonidine, latanoprost or combined treatments.Exp Eye Res. 2008 May; 86(5):798-806.EE
The aim of the present study is to evaluate the neuroprotective effect of two antiglaucomatous substances, regardless of their hypotensive effect in the eye. Brimonidine, which does not reduce IOP when administered intraperitoneally, and latanoprost, which has a renowned hypotensive effect topically. We examined rat retinal ganglion cell (RGC) survival and size distribution in experimental glaucoma in response to different glaucomatous agents. IOP was elevated by episcleral vein cauterization (EVC) prior to the application of different treatments: (I) PBS application (control group), (II) intraperitoneal administration of brimonidine (a general hypotensive agent), (III) topical application of latanoprost (an ocular hypotensive agent), and (IV) latanoprost combined with brimonidine. After 12 weeks, RGCs were retrogradely labeled with fluorogold and RGC density was analyzed. EVC caused a significant increase (42%) in IOP in each group before drug treatment. After 12weeks of EVC, RGC survival in control vs. EVC rats was 78.9+/-3.2%. No IOP reduction was observed in brimonidine injected rats, but RGC survival at 12 weeks was total (103.7+/-2.7%). In latanoprost treated rats, IOP dropped by around 22% and 94.7+/-3.7% of the RGC population survived. Finally in the latanoprost+brimonidine combined group, IOP was significantly reduced by 25% and 94.4+/-2.2% of RGCs survived. Surprisingly, whereas EVC led to a 6% increase in RGC soma size, brimonidine treatment was associated with a 9% reduction in the soma size of RGCs at 12 weeks. We conclude that brimonidine exerts a neuroprotective effect via a mechanism which is independent of IOP reduction. These findings indicate that cell survival in glaucoma may be enhanced by neuroprotective strategies which are independent of IOP reduction. No synergistic neuroprotective effect was observed when both treatments were applied simultaneously.