Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and affects 70 million people worldwide. The disease is characterized by increased intraocular pressure due to reduced outflow of aqueous humor, which eventually damages the optic nerve causing blindness. As many as 50% of glaucoma patients are unaware that they have the disease in the early stages, thus making a reliable diagnostic marker for the condition vital. It now looks as though researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, have found the first such marker.
Joel Schuman and colleagues examined the main outflow pathway for aqueous fluid in cadaverous eyes from glaucomatous and normal people. They discovered that a cell adhesion molecule called endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 (ELAM-1) is overexpressed in the outflow pathway of glaucomatous eyes (Nature Medicine, Vol. 7, No.3, 01 Mar 2001).
Their findings suggest that in the early stages of the disease, damage to the cells lining the outflow pathway triggers production of a molecule called NF-kappa B which in turn stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 and the expression of ELAM-1.
Stanislav Tomarev from the US National Eye Institute discusses this research and ELAM-1's potential to act as a diagnostic marker for glaucoma in an accompanying News & Views article.
Dr. Joel S. Schuman
Vision Research Laboratories
New England Eye Center
Tufts University School of Medicine
Tel: Tel: +1 617-636-7950
Fax: +1 617-636-4866
Dr. Stanislav Tomarev
National Eye Institute
Tel: +1 301-496-8524
Fax: +1 301-496-8760
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza