Glaucoma is a degenerative disease of the eye. Both the anterior and posterior segments of the eye are affected, extensive damage being detectable in the trabecular meshwork and the inner retina-central visual pathway complex. Oxidative stress is claimed to be mainly responsible for molecular damage in the anterior chamber. Indeed, oxidation harms the trabecular meshwork, leading eventually to endothelial cell decay, tissue malfunction, subclinical inflammation, changes in the extracellular matrix and cytoskeleton, altered motility, reduced outflow facility and (ultimately) increased IOP. Moreover, free radicals are involved in aging and can be produced in the brain (as well as in the eye) as a result of ischemia, leading to oxidation of the surrounding neurons. Glaucoma-related cell death occurs by means of apoptosis, and apoptosis is triggered by oxidative stress via (a) mitochondrial damage, (b) inflammation, (c) endothelial dysregulation and dysfunction, and (d) hypoxia. The proteomics of the aqueous humor is significantly altered in glaucoma as a result of oxidation-induced trabecular damage. Those proteins whose aqueous humor levels are increased in glaucoma are biomarkers of trabecular meshwork impairment. Their diffusion from the anterior to the posterior segment of the eye may be relevant in the cascade of events triggering apoptosis in the inner retinal layers, including the ganglion cells.
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