Sodium 4-phenylbutyrate reduces ocular hypertension by degrading extracellular matrix deposition via activation of MMP9

Prabhavathi Maddineni, Ramesh B. Kasetti, Bindu Kodati, Sam Yacoub, Gulab S. Zode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Ocular hypertension (OHT) is a serious adverse effect of the widely prescribed gluco-corticoid (GC) therapy and, if left undiagnosed, it can lead to glaucoma and complete blindness. Previously, we have shown that the small chemical chaperone, sodium-4-phenylbutyrate (PBA), rescues GC-induced OHT by reducing ocular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. However, the exact mechanism of how PBA rescues GC-induced OHT is not completely understood. The trabecular meshwork (TM) is a filter-like specialized contractile tissue consisting of TM cells embedded within extracellular matrix (ECM) that controls intraocular pressure (IOP) by constantly regulating aqueous humor (AH) outflow. Induction of abnormal ECM deposition in TM is a hallmark of GC-induced OHT. Here, we investigated whether PBA reduces GC-induced OHT by degrading abnormal ECM deposition in TM using mouse model of GC-induced OHT, ex vivo cultured human TM tissues and primary human TM cells. We show that topical ocular eye drops of PBA (1%) significantly lowers elevated IOP in mouse model of GC-induced OHT. Importantly, PBA prevents synthesis and deposition of GC-induced ECM in TM. We report for the first time that PBA can degrade existing abnormal ECM in normal human TM cells/tissues by inducing matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)9 expression and activity. Furthermore, inhibition of MMPs activity by chemical-inhibitor (minocycline) abrogated PBA’s effect on ECM reduction and its associated ER stress. Our study indicates a non-chaperone activity of PBA via activation of MMP9 that degrades abnormal ECM accumulation in TM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10095
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • ECM metabolism
  • ER stress
  • Glaucoma
  • MMP
  • Ocular hypertension
  • Sodium 4-phenylbutyrate
  • Trabecular meshwork


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