The role of aquaporin-4 in optic nerve head astrocytes in experimental glaucoma

Elizabeth Kimball, Julie Schaub, Sarah Quillen, Casey Keuthan, Mary Ellen Pease, Arina Korneva, Harry Quigley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To study aquaporin channel expression in astrocytes of the mouse optic nerve (ON) and the response to IOP elevation in mice lacking aquaporin 4 (AQP4 null). Methods C57BL/6 (B6) and AQP4 null mice were exposed to bead-induced IOP elevation for 3 days (3D-IOP), 1 and 6 weeks. Mouse ocular tissue sections were immunolabeled against aquaporins 1(AQP1), 4(AQP4), and 9(AQP9). Ocular tissue was imaged to identify normal AQP distribution, ON changes, and axon loss after IOP elevation. Ultrastructure examination, cell proliferation, gene expression, and transport block were also analyzed. Results B6 mice had abundant AQP4 expression in Müller cells, astrocytes of retina and myelinated ON (MON), but minimal AQP4in prelaminar and unmyelinated ON (UON). MON of AQP4 nulls had smaller ON area, smaller axon diameter, higher axon density, and larger proportionate axon area than B6 (all p0.05). Bead-injection led to comparable 3D-IOP elevation (p = 0.42) and axonal transport blockade in both strains. In B6, AQP4 distribution was unchanged after 3D-IOP. At baseline, AQP1 and AQP9 were present in retina, but not in UON and this was unaffected after IOP elevation in both strains. In 3D-IOP mice, ON astrocytes and microglia proliferated, more in B6 than AQP4 null. After 6 week IOP elevation, axon loss occurred equally in the two mouse types (24.6%, AQP4 null vs. 23.3%, B6). Conclusion Lack of AQP4 was neither protective nor detrimental to the effects of IOP elevation. The minimal presence of AQP4 in UON may be a vital aspect of the regionally specific phenotype of astrocytes in the mouse optic nerve head.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0244123
JournalPloS one
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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