Neuroprotective strategies for retinal disease.
Pardue Machelle T,Allen Rachael S
Progress in retinal and eye research
Diseases that affect the eye, including photoreceptor degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, affect 11.8 million people in the US, resulting in vision loss and blindness. Loss of sight affects patient quality of life and puts an economic burden both on individuals and the greater healthcare system. Despite the urgent need for treatments, few effective options currently exist in the clinic. Here, we review research on promising neuroprotective strategies that promote neuronal survival with the potential to protect against vision loss and retinal cell death. Due to the large number of neuroprotective strategies, we restricted our review to approaches that we had direct experience with in the laboratory. We focus on drugs that target survival pathways, including bile acids like UDCA and TUDCA, steroid hormones like progesterone, therapies that target retinal dopamine, and neurotrophic factors. In addition, we review rehabilitative methods that increase endogenous repair mechanisms, including exercise and electrical stimulation therapies. For each approach, we provide background on the neuroprotective strategy, including history of use in other diseases; describe potential mechanisms of action; review the body of research performed in the retina thus far, both in animals and in humans; and discuss considerations when translating each treatment to the clinic and to the retina, including which therapies show the most promise for each retinal disease. Despite the high incidence of retinal diseases and the complexity of mechanisms involved, several promising neuroprotective treatments provide hope to prevent blindness. We discuss attractive candidates here with the goal of furthering retinal research in critical areas to rapidly translate neuroprotective strategies into the clinic.