Purpose: Intranasally delivered ST266, the biological, proteinaceous secretome of amnion-derived multipotent progenitor cells, reduces retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss, optic nerve inflammation, and demyelination in experimental optic neuritis. This unique therapy and novel administration route delivers numerous cytokines and growth factors to the eye and optic nerve, suggesting a potential to also treat other optic neuropathies. Thus, ST266-mediated neuroprotection was examined following traumatic optic nerve injury.
Methods: Optic nerve crush injury was surgically induced in C57BL/6J mice. Mice were treated daily with intranasal PBS or ST266. RGC function was assessed by optokinetic responses (OKRs), RGCs were counted, and optic nerve sections were stained with luxol fast blue and anti-neurofilament antibodies to assess myelin and RGC axon damage.
Results: Intranasal ST266 administered daily for 5 days, beginning at the time that a 1-second optic nerve crush was performed, significantly attenuated OKR decreases. Furthermore, ST266 treatment reduced damage to RGC axons and myelin within optic nerves, and blocked RGC loss. Following a 4-second optic nerve crush, intranasal ST266 increased RGC survival and showed a trend toward reduced RGC axon and myelin damage. Ten days following optic nerve crush, ST266 prevented myelin damage, while also inducing a trend toward increased RGC survival and visual function.
Conclusions: ST266 significantly attenuates traumatic optic neuropathy. Neuroprotective effects of this unique combination of biologic molecules observed here and previously in optic neuritis suggest potential broad application for preventing neuronal damage in multiple optic nerve disorders. Furthermore, results support intranasal delivery as a novel, noninvasive therapeutic modality for eyes and optic nerves.