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Neurotrophic Factor Receptors in the Normal and Injured Visual System : Focus on Retinal Ganglion Cells

by Lindqvist, Niclas

Abstract (Summary)
The focus of this thesis is the life and death of adult retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). RGCs are neurons that convey visual information from the retina to higher centers in the brain. If the optic nerve is transected (ONT), adult RGCs die by a form of cell death called apoptosis, and a general hypothesis is that neurotrophic factors can support the survival of injured neurons.With the intention to gain knowledge about systems that can be used to decrease RGC death after ONT, we have studied growth factor receptors belonging to the tyrosine kinase family of receptors (RTK), known to mediate important cell survival signals. We found that the RTK Ret and its coreceptor GFR?1 were expressed by RGCs, and to test the above-mentioned hypothesis, we intraocularly administered glial cell-line derived factor, which activates a Ret-GFR?1 complex, and found transiently mediated RGC survival after ONT. To identify new, potential neurotrophic factor receptors expressed by RGCs, with the aim to improve RGC survival after ONT, we developed a method for the molecular analysis of acutely isolated RGCs. The method involves retrograde neuronal tracing, mechanical retinal layer-separation, and isolation of individual RGCs under UV-light for RT-PCR analysis. Using this method, in combination with degenerate PCR directed towards the tyrosine kinase domain, several RTKs were identified. Axl, Sky, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, CSF-1R, and PDGF-?R are expressed by adult RGCs, and considered to be receptors with potential neurotrophic activity. Other results have shown that RGCs may require depolarization or increase in intracellular cAMP levels in order to fully respond to exogenously added trophic factors. We found that melanocortin receptors (MCRs) were expressed by RGCs, and MCRs can mediate elevation of intracellular AMP. We observed that ?-MSH induced neurite outgrowth from embryonic retinal cells, indicating that MCR ligands have direct effects on retinal cells. RTKs and their ligands may be involved in endogenous systems for neuronal repair within the visual system. BDNF, NT-3, FGF2, and HGFR all increased in the retina after ONT and may be a part of an activated system for neuronal repair locally within the retina. Adult axotomized RGCs die by apoptosis, therefore we examined the regulation of apoptotic genes after ONT. Bim and Bax increased in the retina after ONT, and may promote death of axotomized RGCs, whereas the increase in Bcl-2 may contribute to limit RGC apoptosis after ONT. All in all, this thesis provides insights into the expression and regulation of molecules involved in the death and survival of RGCs. The results have revealed a number of potential neurotrophic receptors expressed by RGCs, and both identified RTKs and MCRs will serve as new targets in therapeutic approaches aiming at counteraction of RGC death after injury.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Dermatology and venerology,clinical genetics, internal medicine; Internal medicine; Neurology; Neurosciences; cell survival; gene expression; neurotrophic factor; receptor; retina; visual system; Neurovetenskap; Developmental Neurosciences; medicinsk utvecklings- och neurobiologi

ISBN:91-554-5629-4

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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