Retinal Ganglion Cells Die by Necroptotic Mechanisms in a Site-Specific Manner in a Rat Blunt Ocular Injury Model

Chloe N Thomas, Adam M Thompson, Zubair Ahmed, Richard J Blanch

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Closed-globe injury can cause visual loss in military and civilian populations, with retinal cell death, including retinal ganglion cell (RGC) degeneration, leading to irreversible blindness. RGC and optic nerve (ON) degeneration after eye or head injury is termed traumatic optic neuropathy (TON). There are currently no treatments for RGC loss, therefore novel therapeutics to prevent RGC death or promote axonal regeneration are a priority. We investigated necroptotic signaling mechanisms in a rat blunt ocular injury model. After bilateral blunt trauma, protein expression and retinal localization of necroptosis pathway members (receptor interacting protein kinase 1, RIPK1; receptor interacting protein kinase 3, RIPK3; and mixed lineage kinase domain like pseudokinase, MLKL) were assessed by Western blot and immunohistochemistry (IHC), and potent necroptosis inhibitor Necrostatin-1s (Nec-1s) was delivered by intravitreal injection to one eye and vehicle to the contralateral eye. RGC and photoreceptor survival were assessed by cell counting and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness measurements on histology. The neuroprotective effects of Nec-1s were assessed in primary retinal culture by βIII-tubulin+ RGC cell counts. MLKL protein expression were upregulated at 48 h after injury and MLKL immunolocalised to retinal binding protein with multiple splice (RBPMS)+ RGC, inner nuclear cells and ONL cells, specifically at the retinal injury site. RIPK3 expression did not increase but RIPK3 co-immunolocalised with RBPMS+ RGC in intact and injured retinae. In vitro, a Nec-1s concentration of 0.01 pg/µL was RGC neuroprotective. In the blunt ocular injury rat model, Nec-1s prevented RGC death at the center of the impact site but did not protect against ONL thinning or provide functional restitution. RGC degeneration in our blunt ocular injury model is site-specific, with necroptosis driving death at the center of the focal impact site.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1517
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2019


  • necroptosis
  • retinal ganglion cells
  • cell death
  • trauma
  • traumatic optic neuropathy; commotio retinae
  • photoreceptors


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