PURPOSE. To determine whether inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS-2) is involved in glaucomatous optic neuropathy. METHODS. Chronic elevation of rat intraocular pressure (IOP) leading to optic nerve damage was induced by episcleral injection of hypertonic saline, which caused sclerosis and blockade of aqueous humor outflow pathways. Expression of NOS-2 in the retina and optic nerve head (ONH) was evaluated by immunohistochemistry, gene array analysis, and quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). Immunohistochemistry was also used to assess the NOS-2 level in the ONH from primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and nonglaucomatous human eyes. Finally, an NOS-2 inhibitor, aminoguanidine, administered orally in the drinking water, was tested for its effect on optic nerve injury in rats with ocular hypertension. RESULTS. Chronically elevated IOP in the rat produced optic nerve damage that correlated with pressure change (r2 = 0.77), but did not increase NOS-2 immunoreactivity in the optic nerve, ONH, or ganglion cell layer. Retinal and ONH NOS-2 mRNA levels did not correlate with either IOP level or severity of optic nerve injury. Similarly, there was no difference in NOS-2 immunoreactivity in the optic nerve or ONH between POAG and nonglaucomatous eyes. Furthermore, aminoguanidine treatment did not affect the development of pressure-induced optic neuropathy in the rat. CONCLUSIONS. As demonstrated by several independent methods, glaucomatous optic neuropathy was not associated with a significant change in the expression of NOS-2 in the retina, ONH, or optic nerve.
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