Researchers discover reason for permanent vision loss after head injury

February 8, 2017, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Research from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has shed new light on what causes the permanent vision loss sometimes seen in the wake of a head injury. The findings are detained in The American Journal of Pathology.

When someone suffers a head trauma, sometimes there is damage to the optic nerve that is responsible for passing information between the eyes and the brain. When the optic nerve is injured, there are tears and swelling in the affected area that causes the to die. This type of injury is called traumatic optic neuropathy, or TON, and results in irreversible .

At this point, there is no effective treatment for TON and the mechanisms of the optic nerve cell death have been largely unclear.

Wenbo Zhang, UTMB associate professor in the department of ophthalmology & visual sciences, and his team found that inflammation brought on by white blood cells play a role in head trauma-induced vision loss. Limiting inflammation could decrease nerve damage and preserve cell function, researchers discovered.

Inflammation is part of the body's defense system against injury and infection and is an important component of wound healing. White blood cells travel to injured areas to help repair the damaged tissue, causing inflammation in the process. Excessive or uncontrolled inflammation can actually make injuries worse and contribute to disease in a couple of different ways - by activating cell death processes, clogging and rupturing blood vessels and producing toxic molecules like free radicals.

"Our data clearly showed that one of the protein receptors on white blood cells called CXCR3 brings white blood cells to the optic nerve in response to production of its binding partner CXCL10 by damaged nerve tissue," said Zhang. "When we deleted CXCR3 or gave mice a drug that blocks the receptors following damage, we observed fewer on the scene by real-time noninvasive imaging, was decreased and was preserved compared with mice that did not receive any intervention following injury."

Yonju Ha, a lead author of this article, said that further studies on this receptor and its role in white blood cell recruitment following tissue injury may aid in the development of new interventions for diseases associated with nerve injury, such as TON, stroke, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Explore further: Stress pathway identified as potential therapeutic target to prevent vision loss

Related Stories

Stress pathway identified as potential therapeutic target to prevent vision loss

February 8, 2012
A new study identifies specific cell-stress signaling pathways that link injury of the optic nerve with irreversible vision loss. The research, published by Cell Press in the February 9 issue of the journal Neuron, may lead ...

New research may pave the way for peripheral nerve damage repair

January 30, 2017
Research published today, 30th January 2017 online in the Journal of Cell Biology, has for the first time identified how a bodily protein allows nerves of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) to repair following injury.

Better treatment sought for blinding traumatic optic nerve damage

April 6, 2011
Scientists want to protect the optic nerve when the eye takes a blow on the battlefield or in a car wreck.

Zinc: A surprise target in regenerating the optic nerve after injury

January 3, 2017
For more than two decades, researchers have tried to regenerate the injured optic nerve using different growth factors and/or agents that overcome natural growth inhibition. But at best, these approaches get only about 1 ...

Nerve injury appears to be root of diabetes-related vision loss

March 24, 2016
Diabetes-related vision loss most often is blamed on blood vessel damage in and around the retina, but new research indicates that much of that vision loss may result from nerve cell injury that occurs long before any blood ...

Researchers use breakthrough technology to detect glaucoma progression

October 14, 2016
In a first of its kind study, Mount Sinai researchers are using optimal coherence tomography (OCT) angiography to look at the earliest stages of glaucoma and identify characteristic patterns of different forms of glaucoma ...

Recommended for you

New study sheds light on brain's ability to orchestrate movement

May 17, 2018
To carry out any action, whether playing the piano or dancing the jitterbug, the brain must select and string together a series of small, discrete movements into a precise, continuous sequence.

Learning music or speaking another language leads to more efficient brains

May 17, 2018
Whether you learn to play a musical instrument or speak another language, you're training your brain to be more efficient, suggests a Baycrest study.

Old drug provides promising new avenue for treatment of MND

May 17, 2018
An international study led by biochemists at the University of Liverpool has shown that the drug-molecule ebselen can correct many of the toxic characteristics of a protein that causes some cases of hereditary motor neurone ...

Our brains are obsessed with being social

May 16, 2018
Our brains are obsessed with being social even when we are not in social situations. A Dartmouth-led study finds that the brain may tune towards social learning even when it is at rest. The findings published in an advance ...

GABA, GABA, GABA, what does it actually do in the brain?

May 16, 2018
Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It is the control knob of all control knobs. But why GABA? What, if anything, might be so special about the molecule?

For older adults, a better diet may prevent brain shrinkage

May 16, 2018
People who eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish may have bigger brains, according to a study published in the May 16, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.