Open-angle glaucoma appears to be induced by the malfunction of the trabecular meshwork cells due to injury induced by oxidative damage and mitochondrial impairment. Here, we report that, in fact, we have detected mitochondrial damage only in primary open-angle glaucoma and pseudo-exfoliation glaucoma, among several glaucoma types compared.
Mitochondrial damage was evaluated by analyzing the common mitochondrial DNA deletion by real-time PCR in trabecular meshwork specimens collected at surgery from glaucomatous patients and controls. Glaucomatous patients included 38 patients affected by various glaucoma types: primary open-angle, pigmented, juvenile, congenital, pseudoexfoliative, acute, neovascular, and chronic closed-angle glaucoma. As control samples, we used 16 specimens collected from glaucoma-free corneal donors. Only primary open-angle glaucoma (3.0-fold) and pseudoexfoliative glaucoma (6.3-fold) showed significant increases in the amount of mitochondrial DNA deletion. In all other cases, deletion was similar to controls.
Despite the fact that the trabecular meshwork is the most important tissue in the physiopathology of aqueous humor outflow in all glaucoma types, the present study provides new information regarding basic physiopathology of this tissue: only in primary open-angle and pseudoexfoliative glaucomas oxidative damage arising from mitochondrial failure play a role in the functional decay of trabecular meshwork.