PURPOSE - Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is an important risk factor for glaucoma. Animal models often involve techniques for IOP elevation that are surgically invasive. Here the authors describe a novel and relatively simple method for inducing a highly consistent, modest, and repeatable elevation in IOP for rats and mice.
METHODS - IOP was elevated unilaterally by injection of polystyrene microbeads into the anterior chamber to occlude aqueous outflow in rats (2.5-7 microL) and mice (1 microL). The fellow eye received an equivalent saline injection as internal control. The authors used tonometry to measure microbead-induced IOP elevations. Optic nerves were processed histologically to determine axon loss.
RESULTS - For rats, a single injection of microbeads raised IOP by 21% to 34%, depending on volume, for approximately 2 weeks, though they were not tracked to full recovery. IOP in the saline-injected eye was constant. An additional injection (5 microL) extended the elevation to 8 weeks. Cumulative pressure exposure for both injections increased linearly. For mice, a single 1-microL injection of microbeads elicited a highly regular 30% elevation in IOP that persisted for more than 3 weeks, with a linear rise in cumulative pressure exposure. For both rats and mice, interanimal variability on a given day was modest, approximately 5% of the mean IOP measurement. Extended elevations (4-5 weeks) induced approximately a 20% loss of axons in both rats and mice.
CONCLUSIONS - These data support a novel and flexible model of modest ocular hypertension with axon loss. The maximal duration of IOP elevation will be further characterized in future studies.