MicroRNAs in Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration

Shunbin Xu, MD, PhD Rush University Medical Center


  • microRNAs are newly recognized regulators of gene expression, playing important roles in both normal functions and diseases in almost all organ systems.
  • Glaucoma is the result of malfunction and death of retinal ganglion cell.
  • This research will identify the microRNAs involved in the malfunction and death of retinal ganglion cells during the development of glaucoma, which may be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of the disease.

Project Details

There are recently discovered gene-expression controllers—called microRNAs—that play important roles in both health and disease. However, the roles that microRNAs play in glaucoma are completely unknown. Dr. Shunbin Xu and colleagues plan to use mice that have human-like glaucoma to gather microRNAs from the "optic nerve head," a region often first affected during glaucoma development. By comparing the presence and activities of different microRNAs at various stages of disease in the optic nerve head, they will discover those that change in correlation with the start and progression of the disease. These microRNAs may be used as new drug targets for the prevention and treatment of glaucoma.