Eye drop delivery of pigment epithelium-derived factor-34 promotes retinal ganglion cell neuroprotection and axon regeneration

Vasanthy Vigneswara, Maryam Esmaeili, Louise Deer, Martin Berry, Ann Logan, Zubair Ahmed

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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Axotomised retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) die rapidly by apoptosis and fail to regenerate because of the limited availability of neurotrophic factors and a lack of axogenic stimuli. However, we have recently showed that pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) promotes RGC survival and axon regeneration after optic nerve crush injury. PEDF has multiple fragments of the native peptide that are neuroprotective, anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory. Here we investigated the neuroprotective and axogenic properties of a fragment of PEDF, PEDF-34, in retinal neurons in vitro and when delivered by intravitreal injection and eye drops in vivo. We found that PEDF-34 was 43% more neuroprotective and 52% more neuritogenic than PEDF-44 in vitro. Moreover, in vivo, intravitreal delivery of 1.88 nM PEDF-34 was 71% RGC neuroprotective at 21 days after optic nerve crush compared to intact controls, whilst daily eye drops containing 1.88 nM PEDF-34 promoted 87% RGC survival. After topical eye drop delivery, PEDF-34 was detected in the vitreous body within 30 min and attained physiologically relevant concentrations in the retina by 4 h peaking at 1.4 ± 0.05 nM by 14 days. In eye drop- compared to intravitreal-treated PEDF-34 animals, 55% more RGC axons regenerated 250 μm beyond the optic nerve lesion. We conclude that daily topical eye drop application of PEDF-34 is superior to weekly intravitreal injections in promoting RGC survival and axon regeneration through both direct effects on retinal neurons and indirect effects on other retinal cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-221
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Early online date8 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • PEDF eye drops
  • Retinal ganglion cells
  • Neuroprotection
  • Axon regeneration
  • Neurite outgrowth


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