Research in mice and patients suggests biomarker could predict vision loss.
Studying mouse models of glaucoma, Ban, Apte and their colleagues identified a molecule in the eye called growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), noting that the levels of the molecule increased as the animals aged and developed optic nerve damage.
"comparing the fluid from patients without glaucoma to those with glaucoma, the GDF15 biomarker was significantly elevated in the glaucoma patients,” Apte said. “We also found that higher levels of the molecule were associated with worse functional outcomes, so this biomarker seems to correlate with disease severity.”
Apte and Ban don’t believe that the molecule causes cells in the retina to die; rather, that it is a marker of stress in retinal cells.