Sigma-1R protects retinal ganglion cells in optic nerve crush model for glaucoma

Linya Li, Shaoqing He, Yang Liu, Thomas Yorio, Dorette Z. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of the Sigma-1R (σ-1r) on retinal ganglion cell (RGC) survival following optic nerve crush (ONC) and the signaling mechanism involved in the σ-1r protection. METHODS. The overall strategy was to induce injury by ONC and mitigate RGC death by increasing σ-1r expression and/or activate σ-1r activity in σ-1r K/O mice and wild type (WT) mice. AAV2-σ-1r vector was used to increase σ-1r expression and σ-1r agonist used to activate the σ-1r and RGCs were counted. Immunohistochemical and Western blot analysis determined phosphorylated (p)-c-Jun, c-Jun, and Caspase-3. Pattern electroretinography (PERG) determined RGC activity. RESULTS. RGC counts and function were similar in pentazocine-treated WT mice when compared to untreated mice and in WT mice when compared with σ-1r K/O mice. Pentazocine-induced effects and the effects of σ-1r K/O were only observable after ONC. ONC resulted in decreased RGC counts and activity in both WT and σ-1r K/O mice, with σ-1r K/O mice experiencing significant decreases compared with WT mice. The σ-1r transgenic expression resulted in increased RGC counts and activity following ONC. In WT mice, treatment with σ-1r agonist pentazocine resulted in increased RGC counts and increased activity when compared with untreated WT mice. There were time-dependent increases in c-jun, p-c-jun, and caspase-3 expression in ONC mice that were mitigated with pentazocine-treatment. CONCLUSIONS. These findings suggest that the apoptotic pathway is involved in RGC losses seen in an ONC model. The σ-1r offers neuroprotection, as activation and/or transgenic expression of σ-1r attenuated the apoptotic pathway and restored RGCs number and function following ONC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Optic nerve crush
  • Pentazocine
  • Retina
  • Retinal ganglion cells
  • Sigma 1 receptor


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