Effect of mitomycin C on the optic nerve in rabbits

Holger Mietz, Thomas C. Prager, Craig Schweitzer, James Patrinely, James R. Valenzuela, Ramon L. Font

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Aim. To prevent scarring after surgical optic nerve sheath decompression, it has been suggested that treating the area of fenestration with mitomycin C (MMC) might be effective. An animal model was used to test whether this toxic substance may cause optic neuropathy. Methods. The optic nerves of 15 rabbits were exposed to balanced salt solution (BSS) or mitomycin C (MMC) in a concentration of 0.2 or 0.5 mg/ml. The unoperated fellow eyes and the eyes that received BSS served as controls. Steady state visual evoked potentials (VEPs) at 40, 50, and 60 Hz were recorded before and 4 weeks after surgery. The nerves were examined by light and electron microscopy after 5 weeks. Results. VEPs in all non-operated eyes and eyes treated with BSS before and 4 weeks after surgery demonstrated responses at all three stimulus frequencies tested. Eyes operated with MMC had extinguished responses for one, two, or all the different temporal frequencies after 4 weeks with marked reduction in VEP amplitude. Eyes operated with MMC at a concentration of 0.5 mg/ml had significantly more reduced VEP responses than those where MMC 0.2 mg/ml was used. On histopathological examination, special stains for myelin and axons showed normal axons and myelin. On electron microscopy, no distinct abnormalities were seen among nerves operated with MMC and controls. Conclusion. The data from this study suggest that in rabbits, the application of MMC to the optic nerve has a dose dependent toxic effect in the short term postsurgical follow up period. While a functional alteration could be demonstrated reproducibly by steady state VEPs, the extent was not obvious on histopathological examination of the nerves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-589
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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