Antioxidants (2007) and Optic Neuritis

Learn more about treatment options for swollen optic nerve.

There have been a number of studies suggesting that oxidative stress may be a factor in incidence of optic neuritis, a condition in which the optic nerve becomes swollen and inflamed. Most people recover but because the condition is one of the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis, researchers have been using lab animals with optic neuritis to test possible treatments for multiple sclerosis.

In one such study researchers looked at the degradation and loss of nerve cell axons, the long slender arms of nerve cells that connect to synapses with other nerve cells. Their focus was the effect of oxidative stress on the mitochondria, which are the energy sources within each cell.

Treatment for the condition was done by addressing oxidative stress. The scientists found that a particular ribozyme that suppressed proper gene expression was associated with myelin fiber injury even without inflammation. When this ribozyme was suppressed in turn lessening oxidative stress they observed that nerve fiber damage was reduced by over 50% and nerve ganglion loss was reduced four-fold.

This research suggests that reducing oxidative stress in the mitochonria may be a means of reducing deterioration of the optic nerve. Because antioxidants are known to reduce oxidative stress they may have a beneficial impact on optic neuritis.

Researchers: X. Qi, A.S. Lewis, et al
Published: Suppression of mitochondrial oxidative stress provides long-term neuroprotection in experimental optic neuritis, Investigations in Ophthalmology and Visual Science, February, 2007.