Retinal Swelling Sensor Identified as Possible Target for Treating Eye and Brain Diseases

Feb 01, 2015 12:00 AM

Author: David Krizaj

Researchers identified the cellular mechanism that controls swelling in retinal cells, a discovery with implications for treating brain and eye diseases and traumas resulting from swelling. Their study brings three new insights: First, it identifies an ion channel (TRPV4) as the retina’s swelling sensor and shows it is activated and regulated differently in neurons versus glial cells (the most numerous cells in the central nervous system.) Second, it determines the molecular link between glial swelling and inflammatory signaling by linking TRPV4 activation to a fatty acid known to exacerbate brain pathology during swelling. Third, it shows that calcium signaling in retinal neurons and glial cells is required in the cells’ response to swelling and mechanical stress. These discoveries mean the TRPV4 ion channel might be targeted to treat brain and eye diseases related to swelling.

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