In the present study the effects of lens injury on retinal ganglion cell axon/neurite re-growth were investigated in adult mice. In vivo, lens injury promoted successful regeneration of retinal ganglion cell axons past the optic nerve lesion site, concomitant with the invasion of macrophages into the eye and the presence of activated retinal astrocytes/Muller cells. In vitro, retinal ganglion cells from lens-lesioned mice grew significantly longer neurites than those from intact mice, which correlated with the presence of enhanced numbers of activated retinal astrocytes/Muller cells. Co-culture of retinal ganglion cells from intact mice with macrophage-rich lesioned lens/vitreous body led to increased neurite lengths compared with co-culture with macrophage-free intact lens/vitreous body, pointing to a neurotrophic effect of macrophages. Furthermore, retinal ganglion cells from mice that had no lens injury but had received intravitreal Zymosan injections to stimulate macrophage invasion into the eye grew significantly longer neurites compared with controls, as did retinal ganglion cells from intact mice co-cultured with macrophage-rich vitreous body from Zymosan-treated mice. The intact lens, but not the intact vitreous body, exerted a neurotrophic effect on retinal ganglion cell neurite outgrowth, suggesting that lens-derived neurotrophic factor(s) conspire with those derived from macrophages in lens injury-stimulated axon regeneration. Together, these results show that lens injury promotes retinal ganglion cell axon regeneration/neurite outgrowth in adult mice, an observation with important implications for axon regeneration studies in transgenic mouse models.
- Cells, Cultured
- Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
- Nerve Growth Factors
- Nerve Regeneration
- Retinal Ganglion Cells