Inhibition of Sema-3A Promotes Cell Migration, Axonal Growth, and Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival

Anat Nitzan, Miriam Corredor-Sanchez, Ronit Galron, Limor Nahary, Mary Safrin, Marina Bruzel, Alejandra Moure, Roman Bonet, Yolanda Pérez, Jordi Bujons, Enriqueta Vallejo-Yague, Hagit Sacks, Michael Burnet, Ignacio Alfonso, Angel Messeguer, Itai Benhar, Ari Barzilai, Arieh S. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Semaphorin 3A (Sema-3A) is a secreted protein that deflects axons from inappropriate regions and induces neuronal cell death. Intravitreal application of polyclonal antibodies against Sema-3A prevents loss of retinal ganglion cells ensuing from axotomy of optic nerves. This suggested a therapeutic approach for neuroprotection via inhibition of the Sema-3A pathway. Methods: To develop potent and specific Sema-3A antagonists, we isolated monoclonal anti-Sema-3A antibodies from a human antibody phage display library and optimized low-molecular weight Sema-3A signaling inhibitors. The best inhibitors were identified using in vitro scratch assays and semiquantitative repulsion assays. Results: A therapeutic approach for neuroprotection must have a long duration of action. Therefore, antibodies and low-molecular weight inhibitors were formulated in extruded implants to allow controlled and prolonged release. Following release from the implants, Sema-3A inhibitors antagonized Sema-3A effects in scratch and repulsion assays and protected retinal ganglion cells in animal models of optic nerve injury, retinal ischemia, and glaucoma. Conclusions and Translational Relevance: Collectively, our findings indicate that the identified Sema-3A inhibitors should be further evaluated as therapeutic candidates for the treatment of Sema-3A-driven central nervous system degenerative processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalTranslational Vision Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 24 Nov 2021


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme604884
Seventh Framework Programme


    • Semaphorin 3A
    • antibody
    • retinal ganglion cells
    • small molecule


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