Targeting HDAC3 Activity with RGFP966 Protects Against Retinal Ganglion Cell Nuclear Atrophy and Apoptosis After Optic Nerve Injury

HDAC3 regulates nuclear atrophy as an early response to axonal injury in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) following optic nerve crush (ONC). Since conditional knockout of Hdac3 prevents nuclear atrophy post ONC, HDAC3 selective inhibition with RGFP966 through localized and systemic dosing of RGFP966 is necessary for application to acute and chronic models of optic nerve injury.


C57BL/6 mice were injected intravitreally with 1-10 μM RGFP966 immediately following ONC, and retinas were analyzed at 5, 7, and 14 days for metrics of nuclear atrophy and cell loss. Mice were similarly assessed after intraperitoneal (IP) injections with RGFP966 doses of 2-10 mg/kg, and eyes were harvested at 5, 14, and 28 days after ONC. H&E and BrdU staining were used to analyze toxicity to off-target tissues after 14 days of daily treatment with RGFP966.


A single intravitreal injection of RGFP966 prevented histone deacetylation, heterochromatin formation, apoptosis, and DNA damage at 5 and 7 days post ONC. After IP injection, RGFP966 bioavailability in the retina reached peak concentration within 1 h after injection and then rapidly declined. A single IP injection of 2-10 mg/kg RGFP966, significantly prevented histone deacetylation. Repeated IP injections of 2 mg/kg RGFP966 over the course of 2 and 4 weeks post ONC prevented RGC loss. There were no significant toxic or antiproliferative effects to off-target tissues in mice treated daily for 14 days with RGFP966.


Inhibition of HDAC3 activity with systemic dosing of RGFP966 prevents apoptosis-related histone deacetylation and attenuates RGC loss after acute optic nerve injury.