Axons can be several orders of magnitude longer than neural somas, presenting logistical difficulties in cargo trafficking and structural maintenance. Keeping the axon compartment well supplied with energy also presents a considerable challenge; even seemingly subtle modifications of metabolism can result in functional deficits and degeneration. Axons require a great deal of energy, up to 70% of all energy used by a neuron, just to maintain the resting membrane potential. Axonal energy, in the form of ATP, is generated primarily through oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. In addition, glial cells contribute metabolic intermediates to axons at moments of high activity or according to need. Recent evidence suggests energy disruption is an early contributor to pathology in a wide variety of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by axonopathy. However, the degree to which the energy disruption is intrinsic to the axon vs. associated glia is not clear. This paper will review the role of energy availability and utilization in axon degeneration in glaucoma, a chronic axonopathy of the retinal projection.
- Optic neuropathy
- Wallerian degeneration