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Mitochondrial optic neuropathy: In vivo model of neurodegeneration and neuroprotective strategies

Author(s): Julio C Rojas | Francisco Gonzalez-Lima

Journal: Eye and Brain
ISSN 1179-2744

Volume: 2010;
Issue: default;
Start page: 21;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Julio C Rojas, Francisco Gonzalez-LimaDepartments of Psychology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USAAbstract: This review summarizes the characteristics of a rodent toxicologic model of optic neuropathy induced by the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor rotenone. This model has been developed to fulfill the demand for a drug-screening tool providing a sound mechanistic context to address the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. It features biochemical, structural, and functional retinal deficits that resemble those of patients with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, a mitochondrial disease characterized by selective degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, and for which an environmental component is believed to play a major triggering role. The available data support the efficiency, sensitivity, and versatility of the model for providing insights into the mechanisms of neurodegeneration, including mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and excitotoxicity. Screening work with this model has provided proof-of-principle that interventions targeting the electron transport chain, such as USP methylene blue and near-infrared light therapy, are effective at preventing neurodegeneration induced by mitochondrial dysfunction in vivo. Prospective developments of this model include the use of neuronal reporter genes for in vivo non-invasive assessment of retinal degeneration at different time points, and its combination with genetic approaches to elucidate the synergism of environmental and genetic factors in neurodegeneration.Keywords: animal model, neuroprotection, mitochondrial dysfunction, visual function, oxidative stress, cytochrome oxidase
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