Mapping the Protein and Lipid Signature of Glaucoma

David Calkins, PhD Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Co-Principal Investigators

Kevin J Schey, PhD Vanderbilt University


Vision loss in glaucoma involves death of the optic nerve through unknown changes in the composition of the retina and nerve. Our studies will measure how elevated pressure in the eye causes compositional changes in the retina and optic nerve by imaging specific groups of molecules in intact tissue. This will help us identify new targets for potential treatments.

Project Details

Aging and elevated eye pressure both contribute to vision loss in glaucoma by changing the activity of proteins and fats in the eye. Drs. David John Calkins, Kevin Schey, and collaborators have previously developed an inducible glaucoma mouse model that was funded in part through a previous BrightFocus grant. In this model, tiny Styrofoam beads are injected into mouse eyes to block the flow of a liquid called the aqueous humor, causing an increase in eye pressure that then damages the optic nerve and leads to glaucoma. The researchers will use a special kind of detection laser and camera (called MALDI mass spectrometry imaging) to create a “road map” of the protein and fat changes in the retina and brain. By giving these mice glaucoma at various ages, this approach will separate age‐dependent from eye‐pressure‐dependent changes. The results will give clues for future treatments for glaucoma and perhaps for other eye or brain diseases associated with aging, like Alzheimer's disease or macular degeneration.