Secondary Degeneration of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells Occurs as Early as 24 h after Optic Nerve Injury in Rats

Lillian M. Toomey, Melissa G. Papini, Thomas O. Clarke, Alexander J. Wright, Eleanor Denham, Andrew Warnock, Terry McGonigle, Carole A. Bartlett, Melinda Fitzgerald, Chidozie C. Anyaegbu

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Optic nerve injury causes secondary degeneration, a sequela that spreads damage from the primary injury to adjacent tissue, through mechanisms such as oxidative stress, apoptosis, and blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), a key component of the BBB and oligodendrogenesis, are vulnerable to oxidative deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage by 3 days post-injury. However, it is unclear whether oxidative damage in OPCs occurs earlier at 1 day post-injury, or whether a critical 'window-of-opportunity' exists for therapeutic intervention. Here, a partial optic nerve transection rat model of secondary degeneration was used with immunohistochemistry to assess BBB dysfunction, oxidative stress, and proliferation in OPCs vulnerable to secondary degeneration. At 1 day post-injury, BBB breach and oxidative DNA damage were observed, alongside increased density of DNA-damaged proliferating cells. DNA-damaged cells underwent apoptosis (cleaved caspase3+), and apoptosis was associated with BBB breach. OPCs experienced DNA damage and apoptosis and were the major proliferating cell type with DNA damage. However, the majority of caspase3+ cells were not OPCs. These results provide novel insights into acute secondary degeneration mechanisms in the optic nerve, highlighting the need to consider early oxidative damage to OPCs in therapeutic efforts to limit degeneration following optic nerve injury.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3463
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

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