Targeted Microglial Attenuation through Dendrimer-Drug Conjugates Improves Glaucoma Neuroprotection

Ian Pitha, Siva Kambhampati, Anjali Sharma, Rishi Sharma, Liam McCrea, Ann Mozzer, Rangaramanujam M. Kannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retinal microglial/macrophage activation and optic nerve (ON) microglial/macrophage activation are glaucoma biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for this blinding disease. We report targeting of activated microglia by PAMAM dendrimers in a rat glaucoma model and neuroprotection by N-acetylcysteine-conjugated dendrimer (D-NAC) conjugates in a post-injury rescue experiment. Intravitreally delivered fluorescently labeled dendrimer (D-Cy5) conjugates targeted and were retained in Iba-1-positive cells (90% at 7 days and 55% after 28 days) in the retina following intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation, while systemically delivered D-Cy5 targeted ON cells. A single intravitreal D-NAC dose given 1 week after IOP elevation significantly reduced transcription of pro-inflammatory (IL-6, MCP-1, IL-1β) and A1 astrocyte (Serping1, Fkbp5, Amigo2) markers and increased survival of retinal ganglion cells (39 ± 12%) versus BSS- (20 ± 15%, p = 0.02) and free NAC-treated (26 ± 14%, p = 0.15) eyes. These results highlight the potential of dendrimer-targeted microglia and macrophages for early glaucoma detection and as a neuroprotective therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1365
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 13 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Biomaterials


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