Role of tumor necrosis factor receptor-1 in the death of retinal ganglion cells following optic nerve crush injury in mice

Gülgün Tezel, Xiangjun Yang, Junjie Yang, Martin B. Wax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


To assess the specific role of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) death receptor signaling in the induction of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death, optic nerves of mice deficient for TNF receptor-1 (TNF-R1-/-) and control mice (C57BL/6J) were unilaterally subjected to crush injury. Counts of RGCs and their axons 6 weeks after the injury demonstrated that their loss was significantly less in TNF-R1-/- mice compared to controls. The most prominent decrease in neuronal loss detected in TNF-R1-/- mice was beyond the initial 2-week period after the injury. This time period was correlated with the period of glial activation and increased glial immunolabeling for TNF-α in these eyes. No further protection against neuronal loss was detectable in TNF-R1-/- mice treated with D-JNKI1, a specific inhibitor of c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK). However, anti-JNK treatment of control animals provided a significant protection against neuronal loss during the same secondary degeneration period. Phospho-JNK immunolabeling of RGCs in control mice subjected to optic nerve crush significantly decreased following their treatment with D-JNKI1, and anti-JNK treatment protected RGCs from degeneration in these animals, similar to the lack of TNF-R1. These findings provide evidence that TNF death receptor signaling is involved in the secondary degeneration of RGCs following optic nerve injury, and is associated with JNK signaling. Since secondarily degenerating neurons are viable targets for neuroprotection, inhibition of TNF death receptor signaling may be an effective strategy to protect RGCs in several neurodegenerative injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-212
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 23 2004


  • Crush injury
  • Mouse
  • Optic nerve
  • Retinal ganglion cell
  • Tumor necrosis factor receptor-1
  • c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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