Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston, and Inserm U848, France have revealed that anti-HIV drugs may be useful in reducing vision loss.
The study conducted using a mouse model has shown that anti-HIV drugs known as protease inhibitors may reduce the cause of some forms of vision loss.
Vision loss often occurs due to the death (by a process known as apoptosis) of nerve cells in the eye (known as photoreceptors) after retinal detachment.
During the study, mouse with retinal detachment were given HIV protease inhibitors by mouth.
The researchers found that the drugs decreased photoreceptor apoptosis or nerve cell death in the eye.
The analysis of mouse retinal cell cultures and those expressing decreased amounts of specific proteins showed that the HIV protease inhibitors disrupted two molecular pathways that caused cell death, both of which affect the cell compartments known as mitochondria.
As the same apoptotic cell death-inducing pathways were shown to be activated in human retinas after retinal detachment, the authors suggest that although the HIV protease inhibitors cannot reattach the retina, they might be of clinical benefit through their ability to prevent the photoreceptor apoptosis that has a central role in vision loss after retinal detachment.