Glaucoma: Seeing the light at the end of the (nano)tunnel – Medical Xpress

Share Article

Forget Password?
Learn more
share this!
February 7, 2022
by University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)
Reduced blood flow and impaired neurovascular coupling are well-known features of glaucoma, the main cause of non-curable blindness affecting 80 million people worldwide in 2020.

The mechanisms underlying these abnormalities are now unveiled, thanks to new research by a team led by Adriana Di Polo, professor of neuroscience and ophthalmology at Université de Montréal.
The study was published this week in PNAS.
The findings by Luis Alarcon-Martinez and Yukihiro Shiga, both postdoctoral fellows in Di Polo’s laboratory and first co-authors of the study, reveal that nanotubes connecting pericytes are damaged in leading to neurovascular deficits.
Pericytes are cells that have the ability to control the amount of blood passing through a single capillary simply by squeezing and releasing it. They are wrapped around the capillaries, the thinnest blood vessels in all organs of the body.
In living animals, as in humans, the retina uses the oxygen and nutrients contained in the blood to function properly. This vital exchange takes place through capillaries.
A blood story
“In our study, we used live imaging of the mouse retina and found significantly reduced capillary diameter and at pericyte locations in eyes with high intraocular pressure, the major risk factor to develop glaucoma,” said Di Polo.
“We show that pericyte dysfunction impairs blood supply, causing the death of retinal ganglion cells, the neurons that connect the retina with the brain, ultimately leading to vision loss.”
“A key finding is that inter-pericyte tunneling nanotubes, thin nanotubes used by pericytes to communicate with each other, were also damaged in hypertensive eyes and contributed to neurovascular dysfunction in glaucoma,” added Alarcon-Martinez.
Calcium as a key player
Calcium entry into pericytes regulates their ability to constrict capillaries and control . In glaucoma, calcium influx is excessive, causing decreased supply.
“We showed that once the calcium equilibrium is restored within pericytes, vascular and neuronal functions can be recovered in glaucoma,” said Shiga. “This strategy also prevented retinal ganglion cell death, therefore is an important preclinical proof of concept.”
This study, the researchers say, paves the way for the development of therapeutic approaches that selectively target pericytes and equilibrium to restore neurovascular health in glaucoma and potentially other neurodegenerative disorders with vascular components such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Explore further

Nanotubes in the eye that help us see

More information: Luis Alarcon-Martinez et al, Pericyte dysfunction and loss of interpericyte tunneling nanotubes promote neurovascular deficits in glaucoma, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110329119.

Provided by University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)

Citation: Glaucoma: Seeing the light at the end of the (nano)tunnel (2022, February 7) retrieved 8 February 2022 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further
Feedback to editors
22 hours ago
Feb 04, 2022
Feb 03, 2022
Feb 01, 2022
Jan 28, 2022
34 minutes ago
56 minutes ago
57 minutes ago
4 hours ago
13 hours ago
15 hours ago
15 hours ago
Aug 12, 2020
Jan 30, 2017
Feb 18, 2021
Jan 02, 2018
Jan 10, 2022
May 16, 2017
22 hours ago
19 hours ago
Feb 03, 2022
Feb 03, 2022
Feb 03, 2022
Feb 03, 2022
Use this form if you have come across a typo, inaccuracy or would like to send an edit request for the content on this page. For general inquiries, please use our contact form. For general feedback, use the public comments section below (please adhere to guidelines).
Please select the most appropriate category to facilitate processing of your request
Thank you for taking time to provide your feedback to the editors.
Your feedback is important to us. However, we do not guarantee individual replies due to the high volume of messages.
Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. Neither your address nor the recipient’s address will be used for any other purpose. The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by Medical Xpress in any form.

Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time and we’ll never share your details to third parties.
More information Privacy policy
Daily science news on research developments and the latest scientific innovations
The latest engineering, electronics and technology advances
The most comprehensive sci-tech news coverage on the web
This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, collect data for ads personalisation and provide content from third parties. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


You might also like

Surviving 2nd wave of corona

Surviving The 2nd Wave of Corona

‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort