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Subspecialties Retina, Retina, Basic & Translational Research

Not Immune to Damage

Glaucoma may be one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide but it is also one of the most mysterious. Elevated IOP might explain some of the pathology, but fails to explain glaucomatous damage occurring in patients with normal IOP – or in those whose IOP is maintained with therapy. As research teams the world over look to unravel the complex mechanisms driving the disease, a research group from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, have evidence suggesting another factor might be at play: autoimmunity.

In brief, the team found that increased IOP could induce stress on retinal neurons, leading to an elevated expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs), which, in turn, activates HSP-specific CD4+ T cells. Primed by commensal microbial flora, these T cells appear to induce progressive neurodegeneration. Dong Feng Chen, senior author on the paper (1), talks about their work.

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About the Author

Ruth Steer

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