Neuroprotection in rabbit retina with N-acetyl-aspartylglutamate and 2-phosphonyl-methyl pentanedioic acid

Henry D. Hacker, Debra L. Yourick, Michael L. Koenig, Barbara S. Slusher, James L. Meyerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Retinal tissue is subject to ischemia from diabetic retinopathy and other conditions that affect the retinal vasculature such as lupus erythematosus and temporal arteritis. There is evidence in animal models of reversible ischemia that a therapeutic window exists during early recovery when agents that reduce glutamate activity at its receptor sites can rescue neurons from injury. To model ischemia, we used sodium cyanide (NaCN), to inhibit oxidative metabolism, and 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG), to inhibit glycolysis. Dissociated rabbit retina cells were studied to evaluate the potential neuroprotective effects of N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate (NAAG), which competes with glutamate as a low-potency agonist at the NMDA receptor complex. N-acetylated α-linked acidic dipeptidase (NAALADase; the NAAG-hydrolyzing enzyme) is responsible for the hydrolysis of NAAG into glutamate, a neurotransmitter and potent excitotoxin, and N-acetylaspartate. 2-Phosphonyl-methyl pentanedioic acid (PMPA) and β-linked NAAG (β-NAAG), inhibitors of NAALADase, were also tested, since inhibition of NAALADase could reduce synaptic glutamate and increase the concentration of NAAG. We found that metabolic inhibition with NaCN/2-DG for 1 hour caused 50% toxicity as assessed with the MTT assay. Co-treatment with NAAG resulted in dose-dependent protection of up to 55% (p<0.005). When the non-hydrolyzable, NAALADase inhibitor β-NAAG was employed, dose-dependent protection of up to 37% was observed (p<0.001). PMPA also showed 48% protection (p<.05-.001) against these insults. These data suggest that NAAG may antagonize the effect of glutamate at the NMDA receptor complex in retina. Inhibition of NAALADase by PMPA and β-NAAG may increase the activity of endogenous NAAG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 1999 Ophthalmic Technologies IX - San Jose, CA, USA
Duration: Jan 23 1999Jan 25 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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