Cyclic AMP and the regeneration of retinal ganglion cell axons

Mats Hellström, Alan Harvey

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    20 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. In this paper we present a brief review of studies that have reported therapeutic benefits of elevated cAMP on plasticity and regeneration after injury to the central nervous system (CNS). We also provide new data on the cellular mechanisms by which elevation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) promotes cytokine driven regeneration of adult CNS axons, using the visual system as the experimental model. cAMP is a second messenger for many intracellular signalling pathways. Elevation of cAMP in the eye by intravitreal injection of the cell permeant analogue (8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-adenosine-3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate; CPT-cAMP), when added to recombinant ciliary neurotrophic factor (rCNTF), significantly enhances rCNTF-induced regeneration of adult rat retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons into peripheral nerve (PN) grafted onto transected optic nerve. This effect is mediated to some extent by protein kinase A (PKA) signalling, but CPT-cAMP also acts via PI3K/Akt signalling to reduce suppressor of cytokine signalling protein 3 (SOCS3) activity in RGCs. Another target for cAMP is the exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac), which can also mediate cAMP-induced axonal growth. Here we describe some novel results and discuss to what extent the pro-regenerative effects of CPT-cAMP on adult RGCs are mediated via Epac as well as via PKA-dependent pathways. We used the established PN-optic nerve graft model and quantified the survival and regenerative growth of adult rat RGCs after intravitreal injection of rCNTF in combination with a selective activator of PKA and/or a specific activator of Epac. Viable RGCs were identified by βIII-tubulin immunohistochemistry and regenerating RGCs retrogradely labelled and quantified after an injection of fluorogold into the distal end of the PN grafts, 4 weeks post-transplantation. The specific agonists of either PKA or Epac were both effective in enhancing the effects of rCNTF on RGC axonal regeneration, but interestingly, injections that combined rCNTF with both agonists were significantly less effective. The results are discussed in relation to previous CPT-cAMP studies on RGCs, and we also consider the need to modulate cAMP levels in order to obtain the most functionally effective regenerative response after CNS trauma. This article is part of a directed issue entitled: Regenerative Medicine: the challenge of translation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)66-73
    JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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