Background: Ischemia within the optic nerve head (ONH) may contribute to retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). Ischemia has been reported to increase neurotrophin and high affinity Trk receptor expression by CNS neurons and glial cells. We have previously demonstrated neurotrophin and Trk expression within the lamina cribrosa (LC) region of the ONH. To determine if ischemia alters neurotrophin and Trk protein expression in cells from the human LC, cultured LC cells and ONH astrocytes were exposed to 48 hours of oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD). Also cells were exposed to 48 hours of OGD followed by 24 hours of recovery in normal growth conditions. Cell number, neurotrophin and Trk receptor protein expression, neurotrophin secretion, and Trk receptor activation were examined. Results: Cell number was estimated using an assay for cell metabolism following 24, 48 and 72 hours of OGD. A statistically significant decrease in LC and ONH astrocyte cell number did not occur until 72 hours of OGD, therefore cellular protein and conditioned media were collected at 48 hours OGD. Protein expression of NGF, BDNF and NT-3 by LC cells and ONH astrocytes increased following OGD, as did NGF secretion. Recovery from OGD increased BDNF protein expression in LC cells. In ONH astrocytes, recovery from OGD increased NGF protein expression, and decreased BDNF secretion. Trk A expression and activation in LC cells was increased following OGD while expression and activation of all other Trk receptors was decreased. A similar increase in Trk A expression and activation was observed in ONH astrocytes following recovery from OGD. Conclusions: In vitro conditions that mimic ischemia increase the expression and secretion of neurotrophins by cells from the ONH. Increased Trk A expression and activation in LC cells following OGD and in ONH astrocytes following recovery from OGD suggest autocrine/paracrine neurotrophin signaling could be a response to ONH ischemia in POAG. Also, the increase in NGF, BDNF and NT-3 protein expression and NGF secretion following OGD also suggest LC cells and ONH astrocytes may be a paracrine source of neurotrophins for RGCs.