Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Sun Yat-sen University in China have shown that acute angle-closure glaucoma is largely an inflammatory disease.

They found that a rapid, sustained, large increase in intraocular pressure in mice turns on a gene (TLR4) that activates a protein known as caspase-8. This signaling protein in turn triggers the production of inflammatory proteins that normally help fight microbial infections.

Promisingly, researchers also showed that they could slow retinal apoptosis in these mice by suppressing either the TLR4 gene or caspase-8 protein.

Chi W, Li F, Chen H, et al. Caspase-8 promotes NLRP1/NLRP3 inflammasome activation and IL-1β production in acute glaucoma. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014 Jul 29;111(30):11181-6.