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Current Topics in Pharmacology   Volumes    Volume 10  Issue 2
Neuroprotection of retinal ganglion cells: Many candidates, a few mechanisms
Delphine Bonnet, David Hicks
Pages: 1 - 12
Number of pages: 12
Current Topics in Pharmacology
Volume 10  Issue 2

Copyright © 2006 Research Trends. All rights reserved

Neurotrophic factors (NTF) offer considerable promise for slowing degenerative conditions in the central nervous system. Their ability to protect neurons from cell death has been demonstrated in numerous paradigms, especially with respect to retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). In diabetic retinopathy, RGCs suffer from among other insults, deprivation of blood-borne nutrients and oxygen starvation; in glaucoma, RGCs undergo apoptotic cell death leading to a very frequent type of blindness. In this condition, the optic nerve is altered resulting in damage to RGCs axons, and subsequent cell death. Several environmental factors could be involved in the beginning of optic nerve degeneration, their multiplicity explaining why complete neuroprotection is difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, research over the past fifteen years has demonstrated the ability of NTF to slow the progression of RGC cell death in various human and animal models, and in several cases to regenerate neurites and/or axons. This review will describe the potential of several NTF, especially neurotrophins and FGFs, to save RGCs from apoptosis. Data concerning RGC neuroprotection will be weighed to estimate their clinical pertinence and to highlight what remains to be investigated. In addition to this overview, the focus will be placed on current understanding of the intracellular cascades induced by NTF, since knowledge of signalling pathways will be of importance to optimize treatments and minimize side effects in the potential future use of NTF.
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