Glaucoma is an optic neuropathy and is currently one of the most common diseases that leads to irreversible blindness. The axonal degeneration that occurs before retinal ganglion neuronal loss is suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of glaucoma. G protein-coupled receptor 3 (GPR3) belongs to the class A rhodopsin-type GPCR family and is highly expressed in various neurons. GPR3 is unique in its ability to constitutively activate the Gαs protein without a ligand, which elevates the basal intracellular cAMP level. Our earlier reports suggested that GPR3 enhances both neurite outgrowth and neuronal survival. However, the potential role of GPR3 in axonal regeneration after neuronal injury has not been elucidated. Herein, we investigated retinal GPR3 expression and its possible involvement in axonal regeneration after retinal injury in mice. GPR3 was relatively highly expressed in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Surprisingly, RGCs in GPR3 knockout mice were vulnerable to neural death during aging without affecting high intraocular pressure (IOP) and under ischemic conditions. Primary cultured neurons from the retina showed that GPR3 expression was correlated with neurite outgrowth and neuronal survival. Evaluation of the effect of GPR3 on axonal regeneration using GPR3 knockout mice revealed that GPR3 in RGCs participates in axonal regeneration after optic nerve crush (ONC) under zymosan stimulation. In addition, regenerating axons were further stimulated when GPR3 was upregulated in RGCs, and the effect was further augmented when combined with zymosan treatment. These results suggest that GPR3 expression in RGCs helps maintain neuronal survival and accelerates axonal regeneration after ONC in mice.
Keywords: Axonal regeneration; GPR3; Neuronal survival; Optic nerve injury; Retinal granular cells; cAMP; glaucoma.
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