Glutamate Neurotoxicity in Glaucoma

George Ayoub, PhD Westmont College

Project Details

Dr. Ayoub is exploring the role of the signaling molecule glutamate, acting through NMDA receptors, in retinal ganglion cell death. He has hypothesized that, under the high IOP conditions found in glaucoma, glutamate is released continuously. This would be an important finding if true because the prolonged presence of glutamate can be toxic to nerve cells and stimulate cell death. Dr. Ayoub is measuring glutamate and analyzing its effects on ganglion cell survival to determine the amount of glutamate that is sufficient to cause cell death. In addition, the neuroprotective action of cannabinoids is being analyzed to determine if they can suppress glutamate levels and/or suppress cell death. Dr. Ayoub has already determined the level of glutamate needed to cause neurotoxicity, and has refined his experimental approach accordingly. Clinical trials are now taking place elsewhere to determine the effects of glutamate suppressors in glaucoma, so the results of this study could prove timely.