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Thursday 12 June 2003

Inhibition of plasminogen activation protects against ganglion cell loss in a mouse model of retinal damage.

By: Zhang X, Chaudhry A, Chintala SK.

Mol Vis 2003 Jun 12;9:238-48

PURPOSE: The mechanisms that trigger ganglion cell death in ischemic retinal diseases are not clearly understood. Using a mouse optic nerve ligation model, the objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that extracellular matrix (ECM) modulating plasminogen activators (PAs) potentiate ganglion cell loss. METHODS: Optic nerve ligation was performed to initiate ganglion cell loss in the retina. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) activity in retinal extracts was determined by plasminogen/fibrinogen zymography. Immunostaining and western blot analysis was performed to detect uPA and tPA proteins. Plasmin activity was determined by casein gel-zymography. Plasminogen and plasmin proteins were detected and quantified by western blotting. Morphology was assessed using hematoxylin and eosin stained retinal cross sections, and programmed cell death was monitored by an apoptotic assay. Laminin degradation in retinal extracts was assessed by western blot analysis. RESULTS: Optic nerve ligation led to a transient increase in uPA and plasmin proteolytic activity in the retina. Urokinase inhibitor, amiloride, blocked uPA activity in retinal extracts. We found a correlation between the increased uPA activity, and conversion of zymogen plasminogen to active plasmin in retinal extracts with laminin degradation in the retina and apoptosis of ganglion cells. We found that by adding exogenous plasmin, in vitro, laminin present in control retinal extracts could be degraded in similar fashion. In addition, uPA or tPA failed to degrade laminin in control retinal extracts unless plasminogen was added, indicating that plasminogen activation is necessary for laminin degradation, in vitro. After intravitreal injection of plasmin inhibitor, alpha-2 antiplasmin, we found a significant protection against optic nerve ligation-induced ganglion cell loss. CONCLUSIONS: Optic nerve ligation-induced plasmin(ogen) activation that precedes ganglion cell loss suggest that specific targeting of plasmin activity may have therapeutic potential in preventing ganglion cell loss in retinal diseases.

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