Mini-Review Article

Gene Therapy Strategies for Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration

Author(s): Rafael Lani-Louzada, Mariana Santana Dias, Rafael Linden, Vinicius Toledo Ribas and Hilda Petrs-Silva*

Volume 21, Issue 5, 2021

Published on: 26 January, 2021

Page: [362 - 381] Pages: 20

DOI: 10.2174/1566523221666210126152000

Price: $65


Glaucoma leads to irreversible vision loss and current therapeutic strategies are often insufficient to prevent the progression of the disease and consequent blindness. Elevated intraocular pressure is an important risk factor, but not required for the progression of glaucomatous neurodegeneration. The demise of retinal ganglion cells represents the final common pathway of glaucomatous vision loss. Still, lifelong control of intraocular pressure is the only current treatment to prevent severe vision loss, although it frequently fails despite best practices. This scenario calls for the development of neuroprotective and pro-regenerative therapies targeting the retinal ganglion cells as well as the optic nerve. Several experimental studies have shown the potential of gene modulation as a tool for neuroprotection and regeneration. In this context, gene therapy represents an attractive approach as a persistent treatment for glaucoma. Viral vectors engineered to promote overexpression of a broad range of cellular factors have been shown to protect retinal ganglion cells and/or promote axonal regeneration in experimental models. Here, we review the mechanisms involved in glaucomatous neurodegeneration and regeneration in the central nervous system. Then, we point out the current limitations of gene therapy platforms and review a myriad of studies that use viral vectors to manipulate genes in retinal ganglion cells, as a strategy to promote neuroprotection and regeneration. Finally, we address the potential of combining neuroprotective and regenerative gene therapies as an approach to glaucomatous neurodegeneration.

Keywords: Neuroprotection, neuroregeneration, glaucoma, rAAV, retinal ganglion cell, optic nerve.

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