MK-801 has neuroprotective and antiproliferative effects in retinal laser injury

Yoram Solberg*, Mordechi Rosner, Joseph Turetz, Michael Belkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. Treatment of the retina by laser photocoagulation often is complicated by an immediate side effect of visual impairment, caused by unavoidable, laser-induced destruction of healthy tissue adjacent to the lesion. A neuroprotective therapy that salvages this healthy tissue might enhance the benefit obtained from the treatment. This study was proposed to determine whether glutamate-receptor blockers can provide adjuvant neuroprotection during laser photocoagulation. The effect of MK-801, and NMDA-receptor antagonist, on laser-induced retinal injury was examined, in a rat model. Methods. Argon laser lesions were created in the retinas of 36 DA rats, and were followed immediately by intraperitoneal injections of MK-801 (2 mg/kg) or saline. The animals were killed after 3, 20, or 60 days and the retinal lesions were evaluated histologically and morphometrically. Results. Photoreceptor-cell loss was significantly less in MK-801-treated rats than in control animals. The proliferative membrane composed of retinal pigment epithelial cells and neovascular blood vessels, which was seen at the base of the lesion in control group retinas was smaller in the MK-801-treated retinas. In rats treated with a higher dose of MK-801, the lesions showed almost no proliferative reaction. Conclusions. A potent noncompetitive NMDA- receptor blocker, MK-801 exhibits neuroprotective and antiproliferative properties in the retina. Glutamate-receptor blockers should be investigated further as potential adjuvant therapy in retinal photocoagulation treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1380-1389
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1997


  • Glutamate
  • Laser photocoagulation
  • MK-801
  • NMDA
  • Retina


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