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A clearer understanding of glaucoma

JCI Journals

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness worldwide. In glaucoma patients, the optic nerve, which relays information from the eye to the brain, is damaged, though the molecular cause of nerve damage is unclear. Dr. Simon John, from Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues specifically wanted to understand the earliest events that lead to optic nerve damage in glaucoma. Using a mouse model of the disease, the researchers showed that inflammatory immune cells called monocytes cross blood vessels and invade the optic nerve. Remarkably, mice treated with a single X-ray treatment in eyes prior to the onset of glaucoma were protected from developing the disease later in life. Through an unknown mechanism, the X-ray treatment prevented neuroinflammation and allowed mice to avoid glaucoma development, even in the presence of other risk factors. Continuing research by the John team will examine why the X-ray treatment effectively blocked glaucoma in the mouse model system and if this strategy might someday be adapted to prevent glaucoma in humans.



Radiation treatment inhibits monocyte entry into the optic nerve head and prevents neuronal damage in a mouse model of glaucoma


Simon W.M. John
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main St., Bar Harbor, Maine 04609, USA. Phone: 207.288.6496; Fax: 207.288.6078; E-mail:

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