Traumatic optic neuropathy (TON) is a devastating condition that can occur after blunt or penetrating trauma to the head, leading to visual impairment or blindness. Despite these debilitating effects, no clinically available therapeutic targets neuroprotection or promotes axon regeneration in this or any optic neuropathy. Limited data in large-animal models are a major obstacle to advancing treatments toward clinical therapeutics. To address this issue, we refined a surgical model of TON in Yucatan minipigs. First, we validated the model by demonstrating visual impairment by flash visual-evoked potential and retinal ganglion cell degeneration and death. Next, we developed and optimized a delivery method and nontoxic dosing of intravitreal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cAMP. Finally, we showed that intravitreal injection of BDNF and cAMP rescued visual function and protected against retinal ganglion cell death and optic nerve axon degeneration. Together these data in a preclinical large-animal model advance our understanding of and ability to model TON and further identify and develop candidate clinical therapeutics.
Kathleen Heng, Brent K. Young, BaoXiang Li, Ashley D. Nies, Xin Xia, Runxia R. Wen, Roopa Dalal, Gregory T. Bramblett, Andrew W. Holt, Jeffery M. Cleland, Jason N. Harris, Albert Y. Wu, Jeffrey L. Goldberg