Neurotrophin roles in retinal ganglion cell survival: lessons from rat glaucoma models

Exp Eye Res. 2009 Apr;88(4):808-15. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2009.02.004. Epub 2009 Feb 14.


The neurotrophin (NT) hypothesis proposes that the obstruction of retrograde transport at the optic nerve head results in the deprivation of neurotrophic support to retinal ganglion cells (RGC) leading to apoptotic cell death in glaucoma. An important corollary to this concept is the implication that appropriate enhancement of neurotrophic support will prolong the survival of injured RGC indefinitely. This hypothesis is, perhaps, the most widely recognized theory to explain RGC loss resulting from exposure of the eye to elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Recent studies of NT signaling using rat glaucoma models, have examined the endogenous responses of the retina to pressure exposure as well as studies designed to augment NT signaling in order to rescue RGC from apoptosis following pressure-induced injury. The examination of these studies in this review reveals a number of consistent observations and provides direction for further investigations of this hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glaucoma / pathology
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology*


  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neuroprotective Agents