Intraocular Delivery of a Collagen Mimetic Peptide Repairs Retinal Ganglion Cell Axons in Chronic and Acute Injury Models.Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Mar 08; 23(6)IJ
Vision loss through the degeneration of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons occurs in both chronic and acute conditions that target the optic nerve. These include glaucoma, in which sensitivity to intraocular pressure (IOP) causes early RGC axonal dysfunction, and optic nerve trauma, which causes rapid axon degeneration from the site of injury. In each case, degeneration is irreversible, necessitating new therapeutics that protect, repair, and regenerate RGC axons. Recently, we demonstrated the reparative capacity of using collagen mimetic peptides (CMPs) to heal fragmented collagen in the neuronal extracellular milieu. This was an important step in the development of neuronal-based therapies since neurodegeneration involves matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-mediated remodeling of the collagen-rich environment in which neurons and their axons exist. We found that intraocular delivery of a CMP comprising single-strand fractions of triple helix human type I collagen prevented early RGC axon dysfunction in an inducible glaucoma model. Additionally, CMPs also promoted neurite outgrowth from dorsal root ganglia, challenged in vitro by partial digestion of collagen. Here, we compared the ability of a CMP sequence to protect RGC axons in both inducible glaucoma and optic nerve crush. A three-week +40% elevation in IOP caused a 67% degradation in anterograde transport to the superior colliculus, the primary retinal projection target in rodents. We found that a single intravitreal injection of CMP during the period of IOP elevation significantly reduced this degradation. The same CMP delivered shortly after optic nerve crush promoted significant axonal recovery during the two-week period following injury. Together, these findings support a novel protective and reparative role for the use of CMPs in both chronic and acute conditions affecting the survival of RGC axons in the optic projection to the brain.