Background: Traumatic optic nerve injury is a leading cause of irreversible blindness
across the world and causes progressive visual impairment attributed to the dysfunction and death of
retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). To date, neither pharmacological nor surgical interventions are
sufficient to halt or reverse the progress of visual loss. Axon regeneration is critical for functional
recovery of vision following optic nerve injury. After optic nerve injury, RGC axons usually fail to
regrow and die, leading to the death of the RGCs and subsequently inducing the functional loss of
vision. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying axon regeneration after optic nerve
injury remain poorly understood.
Methods: Research content related to the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying axon
regeneration after optic nerve injury have been reviewed.
Results: The present review provides an overview of regarding potential strategies for axonal
regeneration of RGCs and optic nerve repair, focusing on the role of cytokines and their downstream
signaling pathways involved in intrinsic growth program and the inhibitory environment together
with axon guidance cues for correct axon guidance. A more complete understanding of the factors
limiting axonal regeneration will provide a rational basis, which contributes to develop improved
treatments for optic nerve regeneration. These findings are encouraging and open the possibility that
clinically meaningful regeneration may become achievable in the future.
Conclusion: Combination of treatments towards overcoming growth-inhibitory molecules and enhancing
intrinsic growth capacity combined with correct guidance using axon guidance cues is crucial for
developing promising therapies to promote axon regeneration and functional recovery after ON injury.