[ RadSafe ] X-Rays to Ward Off Glaucoma

S L Gawarecki slgawarecki at gmail.com
Sat Mar 24 15:51:58 CDT 2012

A single x-ray treatment of the eye provided young mice with durable – and
possibly lifelong – protection against glaucoma, which could have
implications for human inflammatory disorders.

Because survivors of the atomic bomb blasts in Japan had a low incidence of
glaucoma, researchers led by Gareth R. Howell of the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute suspected that radiation might somehow protect against the
complex early pathogenetic processes occurring in retinal ganglion cells
and the optic nerve head that ultimately lead to glaucoma. They exposed
mice prone to develop the disease to a 3-mm x-ray beam in one eye and found
complete survival of the retinal ganglion cells, but only in the exposed

The researchers hypothesized that both monocytes and endothelial cells may
participate in the radiation-induced effects on the eye, and that resultant
upregulation of the endothelial gene *Glycam1* may deter the influx of
monocytes into the optic nerve.

"Our data support what we believe to be a new model in which monocytes are
essential for glaucomatous damage and suggest that glaucoma is primarily a
neuroinflammatory disease," they observed online in the *Journal of
Clinical Investigation.*

However, much more research will be needed to establish safety and efficacy
of the treatment before it can be used in humans, they cautioned.

By MedPage Today Staff

-- * N.W.*

Published: March 23, 2012


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