Purpose To delineate responses of optic nerve head astrocytes to sustained intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation in mice. Methods We elevated IOP for 1 day to 6 weeks by intracameral microbead injection in 4 strains of mice. Astrocyte alterations were studied by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) including immunogold molecular localization, and by laser scanning microscopy (LSM) with immunofluorescence for integrin β1, α-dystroglycan, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Astrocyte proliferation and apoptosis were quantified by Ki67 and TUNEL labeling, respectively. Results Astrocytes in normal optic nerve head expressed integrin β1 and α-dystroglycan by LSM and TEM immunogold labeling at electron dense junctional complexes that were found only on cell membrane zones bordering their basement membranes (BM) at the peripapillary sclera (PPS) and optic nerve head capillaries. At 1–3 days after IOP elevation, abnormal extracellular spaces appeared between astrocytes near PPS, and axonal vesical and mitochondrial accumulation indicated axonal transport blockade. By 1 week, abnormal spaces increased, new collagen formation occurred, and astrocytes separated from their BM, leaving cell membrane fragments. Electron dense junctional complexes separated or were absent at the BM. Astrocyte proliferation was modest during the first week, while only occasional apoptotic astrocytes were observed by TEM and TUNEL. Conclusions Astrocytes normally exhibit junctions with their BM which are disrupted by extended IOP elevation. Responses include reorientation of cell processes, new collagen formation, and cell proliferation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)