Retinal ganglion cell degeneration is a characteristic feature of glaucoma, and accordingly, protection of these cells constitutes a major therapeutic objective in the disease. Here, we demonstrate the key influence of caveolin (Cav) in regulating the inner retinal homeostasis in two models of experimentally elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Two groups of Cav-1−/− and wild-type mice were used in the study. Animals were subjected to experimentally induced chronic and acutely elevated IOP and any changes in their retinal function were assessed by positive scotopic threshold response recordings. TUNEL and cleaved caspase-3 assays were performed to evaluate apoptotic changes in the retina while Brn3a immunostaining was used as a marker to assess and quantify ganglion cell layer (GCL) changes. H&E staining was carried out on retinal sections to evaluate histological differences in retinal laminar structure. Cav-1 ablation partially protected the inner retinal function in both chronic and acute models of elevated IOP. The protective effects of Cav-1 loss were also evident histologically by reduced loss of GCL density in both models. The phenotypic protection in Cav-1−/− glaucoma mice paralleled with increased TrkB phosphorylation and reduced endoplasmic reticulum stress markers and apoptotic activation in the inner retinas. This study corroborated previous findings of enhanced Shp2 phosphorylation in a chronic glaucoma model and established a novel role of Cav-1 in mediating activation of this phosphatase in the inner retina in vivo. Collectively, these findings highlight the critical involvement of Cav-1 regulatory mechanisms in ganglion cells in response to increased IOP, implicating Cav-1 as a potential therapeutic target in glaucoma.
- Retinal ganglion cells
- TrkB receptor