Purpose To investigate the effect of mitochondrial dysfunction on the autoregulation of blood flow, by measuring levels of glutathione, an indicator of mitochondrial dysfunction, in glaucoma patients. Methods Fifty-six OAG patients and 21 age-matched controls underwent a blood assay. Mitochondrial function was measured according to the levels of total glutathione (t-GSH), reduced GSH (GSH), and oxidized GSH (GSSG, glutathione disulfide) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Ocular blood flow in the optic nerve head was assessed with laser speckle flowgraphy parameters, including acceleration time index (ATI). We determined correlations between these measurements and other clinical parameters. Furthermore, we investigated the association between glutathione levels and glaucoma with a logistic regression analysis. Finally, we calculated the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve in order to determine the power of redox index (the log GSH/GSSG ratio) to distinguish the groups. Results OAG patients demonstrated significantly higher GSSG levels and a lower redox index than the controls (p = 0.01, p = 0.01, respectively), but total GSH and reduced GSH levels were similar in the OAG subjects and controls (p = 0.80, p = 0.94, respectively). Additionally, redox index was significantly correlated with mean deviation (MD) of the visual field (r = 0.29, p = 0.03) and ATI (r = -0.30, p = 0.03). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that redox index contributed to MD (p = 0.02) and ATI (p = 0.04). The receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) analysis suggested that redox index could differentiate between control eyes and eyes with glaucoma (AUC; 0.70: 95% interval; 0.57-0.84). The cutoff point for redox index to maximize its sensitivity and specificity was 2.0 (sensitivity: 91.1%, specificity: 42.9%). Conclusions These results suggest that redox index is lower in OAG patients than in controls. Thus, it is possible that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to glaucoma pathogenesis by causing vascular alterations.
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