Small molecule delivery to the optic nerve would allow for exploration of molecular and cellular pathways involved in normal physiology and optic neuropathies such as glaucoma, and provide a tool for screening therapeutics in animal models. We report a novel surgical method for small molecule drug delivery to the optic nerve head (ONH) in a rodent model. In proof-of-principle experiments, we delivered cytochalasin D (Cyt D; a filamentous actin inhibitor) to the junction of the superior optic nerve and globe in rats to target the actin-rich astrocytic cytoskeleton of the ONH. Cyt D delivery was quantified by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry of isolated optic nerve tissue. One day after Cyt D delivery, anterior ONH filamentous actin bundle content was significantly reduced as assessed by fluorescent-tagged phalloidin labeling, relative to sham delivery. Anterior ONH nuclear counts and axon-specific beta-3 tubulin levels, as well as peripapillary retinal ganglion cell layer nuclear counts were not significantly altered after Cyt D delivery relative to sham delivery. Lastly, the surgical delivery technique caused minimal observable axon degeneration up to 10 days post-surgery. This small molecule delivery technique provides a new approach to studying optic neuropathies in in vivo rodent models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas