The role of integrins in glaucoma
Integrins are a family of heterodimeric transmembrane receptors that mediate adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM). In addition to their role as adhesion receptors, integrins can act as “bidirectional signal transducers” that coordinate a large number of cellular activities in response to the extracellular environment and intracellular signaling events. This bidirectional signaling helps maintain tissue homeostasis. Dysregulated bidirectional signaling, however, could trigger the propagation of feedback loops that can lead to the establishment of a disease state such as glaucoma. Here we discuss the role of integrins and bidirectional signaling as they relate to the glaucomatous phenotype with special emphasis on the αvβ3 integrin. We present evidence that this particular integrin may have a significant impact on the pathogenesis of glaucoma.