Purpose: We previously reported increased expression of cell proliferation and Jak-Stat pathway-related genes in chronic experimental glaucoma model optic nerve heads (ONH) with early, mild injury. Here, we confirm these observations by localizing, identifying, and quantifying ONH cellular proliferation and Jak-Stat pathway activation in this model. Methods: Chronic intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation was achieved via outflow pathway sclerosis. After 5 weeks, ONH longitudinal sections were immunolabeled with proliferation and cell-type markers to determine nuclear densities in the anterior (unmyelinated) and transition (partially myelinated) ONH. Nuclear pStat3 labeling was used to detect Jak-Stat pathway activation. Nuclear density differences between control ONH (uninjected) and ONH with either early or advanced injury (determined by optic nerve injury grading) were identified by ANOVA. Results: Advanced injury ONH had twice the nuclear density (P < 0.0001) of controls and significantly greater astrocyte density in anterior (P = 0.0001) and transition (P = 0.006) ONH regions. An increased optic nerve injury grade positively correlated with increased microglia/macrophage density in anterior and transition ONH (P < 0.0001, both). Oligodendroglial density was unaffected. In glaucoma model ONH, 80% of anterior and 66% of transition region proliferating cells were astrocytes. Nuclear pStat3 labeling significantly increased in early injury anterior ONH, and 95% colocalized with astrocytes. Conclusions: Astrocytes account for the majority of proliferating cells, contributing to a doubled nuclear density in advanced injury ONH. Jak-Stat pathway activation is apparent in the early injury glaucoma model ONH. These data confirm dramatic astrocyte cell proliferation and early Jak-Stat pathway activation in ONH injured by elevated IOP.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience