Endothelin and its suspected role in the pathogenesis and possible treatment of glaucoma

Curr Eye Res. 2012 Jan;37(1):1-11. doi: 10.3109/02713683.2011.622849. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Purpose: To review the role of endothelin in intraocular pressure control, its effect on the trabecular meshwork (TM) and the outflow facility, effect on ocular blood flow and vascular regulation and the potential role of endothelin-1 (ET-1) antagonism in the therapeutic paradigm of glaucoma.

Methods: A thorough review of the medical literature and a meta-analysis on the level of ET-1 in OAG patients in an attempt to demonstrate the evolving importance of endothelin in glaucoma.

Results: ET-1 has been identified in the plasma in concentrations that are markedly increased in a number of systemic as well as ocular pathologies such as glaucoma where underlying vascular dysfunction and pathology play a role. It has been shown that ET-1 induces human TM cell contraction in culture and that it can affect the outflow facility. Evidence indicates that systemic ET-1 regulatory mechanisms and vascular responses to it are also altered in glaucoma. Recently, several endothelin antagonists have been shown to have a potential role in glaucoma therapy. In our meta-analysis, only patients with normal tension glaucoma (NTG) (as opposed to patients with high tension glaucoma (HTG)) had significantly higher plasma ET-1 levels compared to non-glaucomatous control. High tension glaucomaHTG patients had significant higher levels of ET-1 in the aqueous humor.

Conclusions: The potential role of ET-1 antagonism in the therapeutic paradigm of glaucoma is an exciting possible new approach in the treatment of OAG patients. In NTG, ET-1 may have both a local and systemic component of vascular dysregulation, while whereas in HTG, the role of ET-1 may be dominantly localized to ocular tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelin Receptor Antagonists*
  • Endothelin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Endothelin-1 / metabolism
  • Endothelins / physiology*
  • Glaucoma* / drug therapy
  • Glaucoma* / etiology
  • Glaucoma* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology*
  • Retinal Vessels / physiopathology*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Endothelin Receptor Antagonists
  • Endothelin-1
  • Endothelins