Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival and Axon Regeneration after Optic Nerve Injury: Role of Inflammation and Other Factors

Date Published:

2022 Sep 05


The optic nerve, like most pathways in the mature central nervous system, cannot regenerate if injured, and within days, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the neurons that extend axons through the optic nerve, begin to die. Thus, there are few clinical options to improve vision after traumatic or ischemic optic nerve injury or in neurodegenerative diseases such as glaucoma, dominant optic neuropathy, or optic pathway gliomas. Research over the past two decades has identified several strategies to enable RGCs to regenerate axons the entire length of the optic nerve, in some cases leading to modest reinnervation of di- and mesencephalic visual relay centers. This review primarily focuses on the role of the innate immune system in improving RGC survival and axon regeneration, and its synergy with manipulations of signal transduction pathways, transcription factors, and cell-extrinsic suppressors of axon growth. Research in this field provides hope that clinically effective strategies to improve vision in patients with currently untreatable losses could become a reality in 5-10 years.

Last updated on 10/01/2022