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Glaucoma is a chronic neurodegenerative disease of the optic nerve, in which apoptosisof retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and progressive loss of optic nerve axons result in structuraland functional deficits in glaucoma patients. This neurodegenerative disease is indeed a leadingcause of blindness in the world. The glaucomatous neurodegenerative environment hasbeen associated with the activation of multiple pathogenic mechanisms for RGC death andaxon degeneration. Growing evidence obtained from clinical and experimental studies overthe last decade also strongly suggests the involvement of the immune system in this neurodegenerativeprocess. Paradoxically, the roles of the immune system in glaucoma have beendescribed as either neuroprotective or neurodestructive. A balance between beneficial immunityand harmful autoimmune neurodegeneration may ultimately determine the fate of RGCsin response to various stressors in glaucomatous eyes. Based on clinical data in humans, ithas been proposed that one form of glaucoma may be an autoimmune neuropathy, in whichan individual’s immune response facilitates a somatic and/or axonal degeneration of RGCsby the very system which normally serves to protect it against tissue stress.

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