CUHK Ophthalmology finds novel hormone receptor in eye
Uveitis is a common form of eye inflammation. Repeated uveitis would cause irreversible damages to eye tissues leading to visual impairment. In the Hong Kong Eye Hospital, the Medical Retina diseases and Uveitis Clinic serves more than 100 patients every week. Currently, uveitis is treated by steroids, which has a series of side effects such as cataracts, depression, higher blood pressure and lower resistance to infection. Therefore, alternate treatment options for uveitis with fewer side effects are urgently needed.
Publishing in the December 2014 issue of a leading international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a research team from the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences found that a growth hormone receptor has a significant role in eye tissues, despite its well documented functions in the human brain . By collaborating with a Nobel Prize laureate Professor Andrew Schally from the University of Miami (USA), the researchers showed that blocking the growth hormone receptor with a synthetic amino acid peptide could greatly reduce the uveitis in an experimental rat model. There were significantly less acute inflammation in the iris, ciliary body and the anterior chamber in the eyes. The anti-inflammatory effects of this synthetic amino acid peptide were as efficient as the steroids. Because this synthetic amino acid peptide is highly similar to a growth hormone that naturally occurs in a human body, it is expected to have fewer side effects in treating uveitis comparing to steroids. The results of this study suggest a novel treatment of eye inflammation.