In the brain, mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) has emerged as a stress signal associated with neuronal survival. In the retina, UCP2 is expressed primarily by retinal ganglion cells. Here, we investigated the functional relevance of UCP2 in the mouse retina. Increased expression of UCP2 significantly reduced apoptosis during the critical developmental period resulting in elevated numbers of retinal ganglion cells in the adult. Elevated UCP2 levels also protected against excitotoxic cell death induced by intraocular injection of either NMDA or kainic acid. In monolayer cultures of retinal cells, elevated UCP2 levels increased cell survival and rendered the cells independent of the survival-promoting effects of the neurotrophic factors BDNF and CNTF. Taken together, these data implicate UCP2 as an important regulator of retinal neuron survival both during development and in adult animals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience