Secondary Degeneration After Partial Optic Nerve Injury and Possible Neuroprotective Effects of Lycium Barbarum (Wolfberry)

  • Hong-Ying Li
  • Henry HL Chan
  • Patrick HW Chu
  • Raymond Chuen-Chung Chang
  • Kwok-Fai SoEmail author


Secondary degeneration occurs commonly in a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including glaucoma. Partial optic nerve transection (PONT) model was established in the last decade and was good for studying secondary degeneration in retinas and optic nerves. The results from the published papers about PONT showed that the mechanisms—apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy, oxidative stress, calcium overload, mitochondria, activation of c-jun, water channel change, and glial cells (microglia, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes)—were involved in secondary degeneration after PONT. In addition to the cell bodies and the axons of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), other cells in the layers outside the ganglion cell layer were also affected according to the measurement of multifocal electroretinogram (mfERG) by our group. Lycium barbarum (L. barbarum) is a traditional medicine in the oriental world and has long been used as a functional food and for medicinal purposes. The data from our group and others showed that the polysaccharides extracted from L. barbarum (LBP) were neuroprotective in different animal models, including the PONT model. Our results showed that LBP could inhibit secondary degeneration of the cell bodies of RGCs rather than primary degeneration as well as preserve the function of retinas measured by mfERG. These effects are related with the antioxidant function of LBP, inhibition of c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway in the retinas after PONT. Other possible mechanisms involved in LBP’s neuroprotective effects for secondary degeneration are immunomodulatory effects, preservation of synapses, and modulation of autophagy.


Optic nerve Secondary degeneration Lycium barbarum Neuroprotection 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hong-Ying Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Henry HL Chan
    • 6
  • Patrick HW Chu
    • 6
  • Raymond Chuen-Chung Chang
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Kwok-Fai So
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.GHM Institute of CNS Regeneration and Guangdong Key Laboratory of Brain Function and DiseasesJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyJinan University School of MedicineGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of OphthamologyThe University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.The State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science and the Research Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone and Healthy AgingThe University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Department of AnatomyThe University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.Laboratory of Experimental Optometry (Neuroscience), School of OptometryThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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