Protein expression of human optic nerve astrocytes and lamina cribrosa cells following exposure to different modes of biomechanical strain and hypoxia
The 'big picture' question of this study is, 'What happens at the very earliest stages of glaucoma that results in a healthy optic nerve becoming glaucomatous?' We will attempt to reproduce the stresses and strains (both mechanical, i.e. high pressure in the eye, and vascular, i.e. poor blood supply to the optic nerve) that are likely present in the very earliest stages of glaucoma. We will then harvest cells from optic nerves donated for research and expose them to conditions similar to those found in early glaucoma. We will measure the responses by analyzing the different type of proteins the cells produce when stressed. Our research is unique in that it involves collaborations between engineers who understand the biomechanics of pressure induced stress, scientists who can grow cells and measure their reactions to stress, and clinicians who can interpret the results in a way that may ultimately benefit their patients with glaucoma.