Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor, plays a significant role in the pathophysiology of ocular conditions like glaucoma. Glaucoma is characterized by apoptotic loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and loss of visual fields and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness. In glaucomatous eyes, retinal ischemia causes release of pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and promotes activation of transcription factors such as nuclear factor kappa B (NFKB) and c-Jun. Magnesium acetyltaurate (MgAT) has previously been shown to protect against ET-1 induced retinal and optic nerve damage. Current study investigated the mechanisms underlying these effects of MgAT, which so far remain unknown. Sprague dawley rats were intravitreally injected with ET-1 with or without pretreatment with MgAT. Seven days post-injection, retinal expression of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, NFKB and c-Jun protein and genes was determined using Western blot and PCR. Animals were subjected to retrograde labeling of RGCs to determine the extent of RGC survival. RGC survival was also examined using Brn3A staining. Furthermore, visual functions of rats were determined using Morris water maze. It was observed that pre-treatment with MgAT protects against ET-1 induced increase in the retinal expression of IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α proteins and genes. It also protected against ET-1 induced activation of NFKB and c-Jun. These effects of MgAT were associated with greater RGC survival and preservation of visual functions in rats. In conclusion, MgAT prevents ET-1 induced RGC loss and loss of visual functions by suppressing neuroinflammatory reaction in rat retinas.
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