Role of CX3CR1 in Microglia Activation and Retinal Ganglion Cell Degeneration in Glaucoma - An in Vivo Imaging Study

Christopher Kai-shun Leung, MD The Chinese University of Hong Kong


This study is designed to address the role of microglia activation in relation to retinal ganglion cell degeneration by directly visualizing the interaction between microglia and RGCs with live imaging with confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy in experimental glaucoma. We investigate if knocking out the CX3CR1 gene, a gene implicated in mediating the communication between retinal ganglion cells and microglia, could reduce the activation of microglia and enhance the survival of retinal ganglion cells in glaucoma.

Project Details

Physical changes happen to the retina during glaucoma. However, these changes can be too small to see with a magnifying device in an eye doctor's office. Dr. Christopher Kai-shun Leung and collaborators will use a machine, called a confocal laser scanning ophthalmoscope, to take live pictures of the retinas in mice before and after they've been given glaucoma through increasing their eye pressure. They suspect that immune cells of the retina, called microglia, could promote damage to retinal neurons. To track their activity, they will specifically make these cells glow in the dark. This is the first study to use live imaging to directly examine the interactions between retinal neurons and microglial cells in glaucoma. In the future, the results from this study could be used to design drugs to prevent the damage to the retina caused by microglia.