Thursday August 16, 2018

Study Suggests Glaucoma May be an Autoimmune Disease

In human patients with glaucoma, the researchers found that they had five times the normal level of T cells specific to heat shock proteins

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Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a group of related eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain. Pixabay
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Glaucoma, an eye disease which affects nearly 70 million people worldwide, may be an autoimmune disease, suggests a new research.

In a study of mice, the researchers showed that the body’s own T cells are responsible for the progressive retinal degeneration seen in glaucoma.

Furthermore, these T cells appear to be primed to attack retinal neurons as the result of previous interactions with bacteria that normally live in our body, said the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The discovery suggests that it was possible to develop new treatments for glaucoma by blocking this autoimmune activity.

“This opens a new approach to prevent and treat glaucoma,” said study co-author Jianzhu Chen, Professor of Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Glaucoma is a group of related eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain.

One of the biggest risk factors for glaucoma is elevated pressure in the eye, which often occurs as people age, and the ducts that allow fluid to drain from the eye become blocked.

Glaucoma
Glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease: Study. Pixabay

The disease often goes undetected at first and patients may not realise they have the disease until half of their retinal ganglion cells have been lost.

Most treatments focus on lowering pressure in the eye (also known as intraocular pressure).

However, in many patients, the disease worsens even after intraocular pressure returns to normal.

In studies in mice, the researchers found the same effect.

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“That led us to the thought that this pressure change must be triggering something progressive, and the first thing that came to mind is that it has to be an immune response,” study co-author Dong Feng Chen, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, said.

Further studies revealed that the glaucoma-linked T cells target proteins called heat shock proteins, which help cells respond to stress or injury.

In human patients with glaucoma, the researchers found that they had five times the normal level of T cells specific to heat shock proteins. (IANS)

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Low Carb and High Fat Diet May Help Maintain Eyesight

Higher rates of glaucoma in people with diabetes suggests a potential connection between this eye disease and metabolic stress.

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Switching mice destined to develop glaucoma to a low carbohydrate, high fat diet protects the cells of the retina and their connections to the brain from degeneration.
Diet is very important in maintaining a healthy eyesight. Pixabay

Besides helping lose weight, consuming a ketogenic diet — which is high fat, low protein and low carbohydrates — can also help maintain vision in patients with glaucoma, finds a study conducted over mice.

Glaucoma is a progressive disease in which damage to the cells that transmit visual information to the brain leads to vision loss and, in some cases, blindness.

Higher rates of glaucoma in people with diabetes suggests a potential connection between this eye disease and metabolic stress.

Switching mice destined to develop glaucoma to a low carbohydrate, high fat diet protects the cells of the retina and their connections to the brain from degeneration.
Low carb diet can maintain eyesight. Pixabay

The findings led by Denise Inman from the Northeast Ohio Medical University in the US showed that low carb, high fat diet protects retina cells and their connections to the brain from degeneration.

Switching mice destined to develop glaucoma to a low carbohydrate, high fat diet protects the cells of the retina and their connections to the brain from degeneration.

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The results, published in the journal JNeurosci, found that feeding mice, genetically modified to develop glaucoma, a ketogenic diet composed of nearly 90 per cent fat for two months protected retinal cells from degeneration by increasing energy availability.

Although further research into this intervention is required, these findings suggest that a ketogenic diet may help to maintain vision in patients with glaucoma, the researchers said. (IANS)