Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), a chronic optic neuropathy, remains the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It is driven in part by the pro-fibrotic cytokine transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and leads to extracellular matrix remodelling at the lamina cribrosa of the optic nerve head. Despite an array of medical and surgical treatments targeting the only known modifiable risk factor, raised intraocular pressure, many patients still progress and develop significant visual field loss and eventual blindness. The search for alternative treatment strategies targeting the underlying fibrotic transformation in the optic nerve head and trabecular meshwork in glaucoma is ongoing. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs known to regulate post-transcriptional gene expression. Extensive research has been undertaken to uncover the complex role of miRNAs in gene expression and miRNA dysregulation in fibrotic disease. MiR-29 is a family of miRNAs which are strongly anti-fibrotic in their effects on the TGF-β signalling pathway and the regulation of extracellular matrix production and deposition. In this review, we discuss the anti-fibrotic effects of miR-29 and the role of miR-29 in ocular pathology and in the development of glaucomatous optic neuropathy. A better understanding of the role of miR-29 in POAG may aid in developing diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in glaucoma.
- glaucomatous optic neuropathy
- extracellular matrix