Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Gregory E. Conner

Second Committee Member

Valery Shestopalov

Third Committee Member

M. Elizabeth Fini

Fourth Committee Member

Ma-Li Wong


Glucocorticoids (GCs) have been widely used as a therapeutic agent for diverse inflammatory ocular diseases. However, a high percentage of patients undergoing this treatment develop high intraocular pressure (IOP), which if left unsupervised may lead to glaucoma. It is believed that the IOP elevation in response to GC treatment has a genetic determinant. In order to test this hypothesis, we analyzed in 52 patients the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the glucocorticoid receptor gene (GR), the principal mediator of GCs uptake by the cells. We studied six GR SNPs previously reported to be associated with sensitivity and resistance to GCs: GluArg22/23GluLys (codon 22-23), Asn363Ser (codon 363), IVS2+646C>G (intron 2/BclI), IVS3-46G>C (intron 3), IVS4-16G>T (intron 4), Asn766Asn (Codon 766). Nevertheless, the results of this preliminary study did not show any specific correlation between SNPs in the GR gene and IOP elevation. Therefore, we proceeded to perform a whole genome SNP screen with the DNA samples of these patients to search for possible target genes responsible for the elevated IOP after GC treatment. As a result, we identified forty-eight SNPs in thirty-three genes that correlate with the high IOP response. The gene showing the strongest association is a poorly known G-protein coupled receptor. In addition, four SNPs hit a single transporter gene. Other candidate genes identified are a translation elongation factor, an F-box protein, an oxysterol binding protein, and a solute carrier family gene. These results support our hypothesis that IOP elevation following GC treatment is a genetically determined response. GCs are a common treatment for innumerable medical conditions; we believe that a genetic association between GC treatment and its physiological response may be important for improving treatment management and drug development for retinal diseases as well as for other medical ailments. However, further studies need to be performed to analyze in depth the association between the candidate genes identified in this study and the steroid response.


Whole Genome Association Study; Steroid-induced Glaucoma; Intravitreal Triamcinolone Acetonide; IVTA; Ocular Hypertension; Genome-wide SNP Screening