The Neuropeptide Systems and their Potential Role in the Treatment of Mammalian Retinal Ischemia: A Developing Story

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Abstract

The multiplicity of peptidergic receptors and of the transduction pathways they activate offers the possibility of important advances in the development of specific drugs for clinical treatment of central nervous system disorders. Among them, retinal ischemia is a common clinical entity and, due to relatively ineffective treatment, remains a common cause of visual impairment and blindness. Ischemia is a primary cause of neuronal death, and it can be considered as a sort of final common pathway in retinal diseases leading to irreversible morphological damage and vision loss. Neuropeptides and their receptors are widely expressed in mammalian retinas, where they exert multifaceted functions both during development and in the mature animal. In particular, in recent years somatostatin and pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide have been reported to be highly protective against retinal cell death caused by ischemia, while data on opioid peptides, angiotensin II, and other peptides have also been published. This review provides a rationale for harnessing the peptidergic receptors as a potential target against retinal neuronal damages which occur during ischemic retinopathies.

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