A novel tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) model of glaucoma

Brian C. Samuels, John T. Siegwart, Wenjie Zhan, Lisa Hethcox, Melissa Chimento, Ryan Whitley, J. Crawford Downs, Christopher A. Girkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE. Primates and rodents are used widely as animal models of glaucoma, but each has significant limitations. Researchers need additional animal models that closely resemble the relevant anatomy and pathologic features of the human disease to more quickly advance research. We validate a novel glaucoma animal model in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). METHODS. Experimental glaucoma was induced in adult tree shrews (n = 8) by injecting 50 µL of a 25 mg/mL ferromagnetic bead solution into the anterior chamber. Beads were directed into the iridocorneal angle with a magnet to impede aqueous outflow. Animals were followed for 3 months with weekly IOP measurements and biweekly spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) images of the optic nerve head. Histopathology of the optic nerve and optic nerve axon counts were completed at the end of the study. RESULTS. The 12-week average mean IOP was 22.7 ± 3.6 and 8.6 ± 2.9 mm Hg in the treated and control eyes, respectively. Longitudinal analysis showed significant retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thinning throughout the study. Axon counts were significantly reduced (59.7%) in treated versus control eyes. SD-OCT imaging showed cupping and posterior displacement of the lamina cribrosa in glaucomatous eyes. RNFL thickness and optic nerve axon counts were reduced consistent with IOP elevation. Optic nerves demonstrated histopathology consistent with glaucomatous optic neuropathy. CONCLUSIONS. Tree shrews with experimental glaucoma show key pathologic characteristics of the human disease. The tree shrew model of glaucoma has the potential to help researchers accelerate our understanding of glaucoma pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3136-3143
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Glaucoma
  • Intraocular pressure
  • Lamina cribrosa
  • Retinal ganglion cells
  • Tree shrew

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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