Somatostatin plays important roles in modulating neuronal functions by activating the five specific G-protein coupled receptors (sst1-sst5). Previous studies have demonstrated that sst5 were expressed in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and sst5 agonist attenuated the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid-induced retinal neurotoxicity. In this study, we investigated effects and underlying mechanisms of the sst5 agonist L-817,818 on RGC injury induced by elevated intraocular pressure (COH) in experimental glaucoma. Our results showed that intraperitoneal administration of L-817,818 significantly reduced RGC loss and decreased the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL)-positive RGCs in COH retinas, suggesting that L-817,818 may attenuate RGC apoptosis. Consistently, in COH retinas with L-817,818 administration, both the down-regulated mRNA and protein levels of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and the up-regulated mRNA and protein levels of pro-apoptotic Bax were partially reversed. L-817,818 administration downregulated the expression of apoptosis-related proteins caspase-9 and caspase-3 in COH retinas. In addition, L-817,818 administration reduced the concentrations of reactive oxygen species/reactive nitrogen species and malondialdehyde, and ameliorated the functions of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex (MRCC). Our results imply that administration of the sst5 agonist L-817,818 reduces RGC loss in COH rats through decreasing RGC apoptosis, which is mediated by regulating Bcl-2/Bax balance, reducing oxidative stress and rescuing activities of MRCC. Activation of sst5 may provide neuroprotective roles for RGCs in glaucoma.

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PubMed