Update on the Mechanism of Action of Topical Prostaglandins for Intraocular Pressure Reduction

Carol B. Toris, B'Ann T. Gabelt, Paul L. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


A decade has passed since the first topical prostaglandin analog was prescribed to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) for the treatment of glaucoma. Now four prostaglandin analogs are available for clinical use around the world and more are in development. The three most efficacious of these drugs are latanoprost, travoprost, and bimatoprost, and their effects on IOP and aqueous humor dynamics are similar. A consistent finding is a substantial increase in uveoscleral outflow and a less consistent finding is an increase in trabecular outflow facility. Aqueous flow appears to be slightly stimulated as well. Prostaglandin receptors and their associated mRNAs have been located in the trabecular meshwork, ciliary muscle, and sclera, providing evidence that endogenous prostaglandins have a functional role in aqueous humor drainage. Earlier evidence found that topical PG analogs release endogenous prostaglandins. One well-studied mechanism for the enhancement of outflow by prostaglandins is the regulation of matrix metalloproteinases and remodeling of extracellular matrix. Other proposed mechanisms include widening of the connective tissue-filled spaces and changes in the shape of cells. All of these mechanisms alter the permeability of tissues of the outflow pathways leading to changes in outflow resistance and/or outflow rates. This review summarizes recent (since 2000) animal and clinical studies of the effects of topical prostaglandin analogs on aqueous humor dynamics and recent cellular and molecular studies designed to clarify the outflow effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S107-S120
JournalSurvey of Ophthalmology
Issue number6 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • aqueous humor
  • intraocular pressure
  • matrix metalloproteinases
  • prostaglandin
  • trabecular outflow
  • uveoscleral outflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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