A New Role for Astrocytes in Blood Flow Control

Lin Wang, MD, PhD
Legacy Health System (Portland, OR)

Co-Principal Investigators

Simon Thompson, PhD
Devers Eye Institute
Year Awarded:
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016
Award Amount:
Grant Reference ID:
Award Type:
Award Region:
US Northwestern
Lin Wang, MD, PhD

Glia-Mediated Blood Flow Autoregulation in Glaucoma


Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. Studies over the past few years have shown that blood flow and the way it changes in the diseased eye play a role. This project will look at what causes these changes in blood flow. Results could lead to an original treatment for glaucoma.


This study aims to investigate whether a special type of cell, astrocytes, play a role in blood flow regulation in normal and pathological conditions in glaucoma. To achieve this goal, we will examine the bioactivities of astrocytes either under a microscope or directly within the eye with the tools developed in our laboratory. We will determine if the astrocytes are activated and help to keep the blood flow in the eye stable after we artificially change the blood flow. We will also determine if the blood flow is still stable after we interrupt a possible communication between the astrocytes and the blood vessels, so that we can learn how the astrocytes perform their regulatory work. Apart from the two innovative techniques that were developed in our laboratory and used in this study, the concept of how the astrocytes regulate the blood flow in the eye is unique. The anticipated results are expected to have a broad scientific impact on our understanding of the role of astrocytes in blood flow regulation in both eyes and other tissues of the body. Identification of the pathways will also allow us to develop possible therapeutic interventions to protect the ocular tissue from a lack of blood flow, progressive tissue damage and subsequent blindness caused by glaucoma.

About the Researcher

Lin Wang’s enthusiasm towards the study of vascular blood flow within the eye began whilst he was a practicing ophthalmologist, specializing in glaucoma, in China. That expertise was furthered while completing his PhD in ocular vascular physiology at Uppsala University, Sweden. As an associate scientist at Legacy Research, he has applied his combined clinical and research expertise to studying glaucoma, and has participated in multiple research projects. Dr. Lin’s current research is focused upon elucidating the hemodynamic changes and the associated cellular mechanisms that occur in the progression of glaucoma. This is ultimately leading us to novel methods of ocular disease detection, and to more effective treatments in the clinic.
Don't miss out.
Receive research updates, inspiring stories, and expert advice
Please enter your first name.
Please enter your last name.
Keep me informed about: *
Please select at least one.
You must select at least one disease category.