Elamipretide, a drug that protects the mitochondria, shows promise in improving vision in retinal vein occlusion (RVO) and other macular edema–related conditions, researchers from Duke University Eye Center suggest. Their research, published as part of ARVO’s online 2020 meeting, also tested the hypothesis that Müller cell mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to visual dysfunction in a mouse RVO model.

Investigators administered elamipretide at 2mg/kg per day and evaluated retinal histology and electroretinograms (ERGs) on days two and seven following induced RVO.

The study found that elaminipretide treatment prevented mitochondrial dysfunction caused by RVO. The researchers also observed an association between a loss of Müller cell perisynaptic lateral processes in the inner and outer plexiform layers caused by RVO  and a loss of synaptic vesicle 2 and synaptotagmin 2 staining, suggesting inner retinal synaptic dysfunction. Additionally, post-RVO ERGs demonstrated major decreases in B-wave amplitudes.

Treatment with elamipretide using either intervention or prevention approaches significantly restored Müller cell lateral processes, synaptic markers and ERG B-wave amplitudes, the study noted.


Alligham MJ, Tserentsoodol N, Saloupis P, et al. Retinal vein occlusion causes mitochondria dysfunction leading to loss of Müller cell lateral processes and visual dysfunction. ARVO 2020. Abstract #1926.