New Therapeutic Strategy for Neurodegenerative Conditions

A new paper from the Flanagan and Gronert labs, "Dysregulation of neuroprotective lipoxin pathway in astrocytes in response to cytokines and ocular hypertension" has been published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications. The paper's authors, Shruthi Karnam, Shubham Maurya, Elainna Ng, Amodini Choudhary, Arzin Thobani, John G Flanagan & Karsten Gronert, propose that "by amplifying the lipoxin pathway, it may be possible to disrupt or prevent astrocyte reactivity, providing a new therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative conditions."


"Our study highlights the critical role of the lipoxin pathway, a resident neuroprotective pathway, in the retina, brain astrocytes, and optic nerves of rodents and primates. We found that this pathway is downregulated in reactive astrocytes associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Our research uncovers the novel cellular targets of lipoxin B4 (LXB4), demonstrating its ability to inhibit astrocyte reactivity and restore lipoxin generation. By amplifying the lipoxin pathway, it may be possible to disrupt or prevent astrocyte reactivity, providing a new therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative conditions."


Glaucoma leads to vision loss due to retinal ganglion cell death. Astrocyte reactivity contributes to neurodegeneration. Our recent study found that lipoxin B4 (LXB4), produced by retinal astrocytes, has direct neuroprotective actions on retinal ganglion cells. In this study, we aimed to investigate how the autacoid LXB4 influences astrocyte reactivity in the retina under inflammatory cytokine-induced activation and during ocular hypertension. The protective activity of LXB4 was investigated in vivo using the mouse silicone-oil model of chronic ocular hypertension. By employing a range of analytical techniques, including bulk RNA-seq, RNAscope in-situ hybridization, qPCR, and lipidomic analyses, we discovered the formation of lipoxins and expression of the lipoxin pathway in rodents (including the retina and optic nerve), primates (optic nerve), and human brain astrocytes, indicating the presence of this neuroprotective pathway across various species. Findings in the mouse retina identified significant dysregulation of the lipoxin pathway in response to chronic ocular hypertension, leading to an increase in 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) activity and a decrease in 15-LOX activity. This dysregulation was coincident with a marked upregulation of astrocyte reactivity. Reactive human brain astrocytes also showed a significant increase in 5-LOX. Treatment with LXB4 amplified the lipoxin biosynthetic pathway by restoring and amplifying the generation of another member of the lipoxin family, LXA4, and mitigated astrocyte reactivity in mouse retinas and human brain astrocytes. In conclusion, the lipoxin pathway is functionally expressed in rodents, primates, and human astrocytes, and is a resident neuroprotective pathway that is downregulated in reactive astrocytes. Novel cellular targets for LXB4’s neuroprotective action are inhibition of astrocyte reactivity and restoration of lipoxin generation. Amplifying the lipoxin pathway is a potential target to disrupt or prevent astrocyte reactivity in neurodegenerative diseases, including retinal ganglion cell death in glaucoma.

Read the Paper

Acta Neuropathologica Communications

Related Information

Flanagan Lab
Gronert Lab

About the Image

Flat-mount images of retinal tissue from two different conditions are shown: one from a control mouse (Ctrl) displaying homeostatic astrocytes and one from a mouse with 8 weeks of mild ocular hypertension (OHT) displaying reactive astrogliosis. In these images, astrocytes are stained green using the GFAP marker.