Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) was reported to have a neuroprotective effect in a rat model of anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (rAION). However, the therapeutic window and anti-inflammatory effects of G-CSF in a rAION model have yet to be elucidated. Thus, this study aimed to determine the therapeutic window of G-CSF and investigate the mechanisms of G-CSF via regulation of optic nerve (ON) inflammation in a rAION model. Rats were treated with G-CSF on day 0, 1, 2, and 7 post-rAION induction for 5 consecutive days, and a control group were treated with PBS. Visual function was assessed by flash visual evoked potentials at 4 weeks post-rAION induction. The survival rate and apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells were determined by FluoroGold labeling and TUNEL assay. ON inflammation was evaluated by staining of ED1 and Iba1, and ON vascular permeability was determined by Evans blue extravasation. The type of macrophage polarization was evaluated using qRT-PCR. The protein levels of TNF-α and IL-1β were analyzed by Western blotting. A therapeutic window during which G-CSF could rescue visual function and retinal ganglion cell survival was demonstrated at day 0 and day 1 post-infarct. Macrophage infiltration was reduced by 3.1- and 1.6-fold by G-CSF treatment starting on day 0 and 1 post-rAION induction, respectively, compared with the PBS-treated group (p<0.05). This was compatible with 3.3- and 1.7-fold reductions in ON vascular permeability after G-CSF treatment compared with PBS treatment (p<0.05). Microglial activation was increased by 3.8- and 3.2-fold in the early G-CSF-treated group compared with the PBS-treated group (p<0.05). Immediate treatment with G-CSF also induced M2 microglia/macrophage activation. The cytokine levels were lower in the group that received immediate G-CSF treatment compared to those in the later G-CSF treatment group (p<0.05). Early treatment with G-CSF stabilized the blood-ON barrier to reduce macrophage infiltration and induced M2 microglia/macrophage polarization to decrease the expressions of pro-inflammatory cytokines in this rAION model.
- Received April 20, 2016.
- Accepted August 11, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd