Calorie restriction is here demonstrated to slow the progression of glaucoma in a mouse model of the condition, without affecting the rising pressure inside the eye that is usually the cause of harm. It is an interesting demonstration of the way in which the shifts in cellular metabolism that occur with calorie restriction prime cells to be more resistant to a range of stresses that typically cause significant amounts of cell death:
Glaucoma is characterized by progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and their axons. We previously reported that loss of glutamate transporters (EAAC1 or GLAST) in mice leads to RGC degeneration that is similar to normal tension glaucoma and these animal models are useful in examining potential therapeutic strategies. Caloric restriction has been reported to increase longevity and has potential benefits in injury and disease. Here we investigated the effects of every-other-day fasting (EODF), a form of caloric restriction, on glaucomatous pathology in EAAC1-/- mice.
EODF suppressed RGC death and retinal degeneration without altering intraocular pressure. Moreover, visual impairment was ameliorated with EODF, indicating the functional significance of the neuroprotective effect of EODF. Several mechanisms associated with this neuroprotection were explored. We found that EODF upregulated blood β-hydroxybutyrate levels and increased histone acetylation in the retina. Furthermore, it elevated retinal mRNA expression levels of neurotrophic factors and catalase, whereas it decreased oxidative stress levels in the retina. Our findings suggest that EODF, a safe, non-invasive, and low-cost treatment, may be available for glaucoma therapy.