Guanylate cyclase activators, cell volume changes and IOP reduction

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Glaucoma afflicts millions of people worldwide and is a major cause of blindness. The risk to develop glaucoma is enhanced by increases in IOP, which result from deranged flow of aqueous humor. Aqueous humor is a fluid located in the front of the eye that gives the eye its buoyancy and supplies nutrients to other eye tissues. Aqueous humor is secreted by a tissue called ciliary processes and exits the eye via two tissues; the trabecular meshwork (TM) and Schlemm's canal. Because the spaces through which the fluid flows get smaller as the TM joins the area of the Schlemm's canal, there is resistance to aqueous humor outflow and this resistance creates IOP. There is a correlation between changes in TM and Schlemm's canal cell volume and rates of aqueous humor outflow; agents that decrease TM and Schlemm's canal cell volume, increase the rate of aqueous humor outflow, thus decreasing IOP. IOP is regulated by guanylate cyclase activators as shown in humans, rabbits and monkeys. There are two distinct groups of guanylate cyclases, membrane guanylate cyclase and soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC); activation of both have been shown to decrease IOP. Members of the membrane guanylate cyclase family of receptors bind to peptide ligands, while the sGC responds to gases (such as NO and CO 2 ) and compounds (such as YC1, [3-(5'-hydroxymethyl-2'furyl)-1-benzyl indazole), a benzyl indazole derivative, and BAY-58-2667); activation of either results in formation of cyclic GMP (cGMP) and activation of protein kinase G (PKG) and subsequent phosphorylation of target proteins, including the high conductance calcium activated potassium channel (BKca channel). While activators of both membrane guanylate cyclase and sGC have the ability to lower IOP, the IOP lowering effects of sGC are noteworthy because sGC activators can be topically applied to the eye to achieve an effect. We have demonstrated that activators of sGC increase the rate at which aqueous humor exits the eye in a time course that correlates with the time course for sGC-induced decreases in TM and Schlemm's canal cell volume. Additionally, sGC-induced decrease in cell volume is accompanied by both K + and Cl - efflux induced by activation of K + and Cl - channels, including the BKca channel and/or K + Cl - symport. This suggests that parallel K + Cl - efflux, and resultant H 2 O efflux result in decreases in cell volume. These observations suggest a functional role for sGC activators, and suggest that the sGC/cGMP/PKG systems are potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1154
Number of pages10
JournalCellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2011


  • Aqueous humor outflow
  • Cell volume
  • Glaucoma
  • Nitric oxide
  • Protein kinase G
  • Schlemm's canal
  • Soluble guanylate cyclase
  • Trabecular meshwork


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