Cone photoreceptor cell death as it occurs in certain hereditary retinal diseases is devastating, with the affected patients suffering from a loss of accurate and colour vision. Regrettably, these hereditary cone diseases are still untreatable to date. Thus, the identification of substances able to block or restrain cone cell death is of primary importance. We studied the neuroprotective effects of a histone deacetylase inhibitor, Trichostatin A (TSA), in a mouse model of inherited, primary cone degeneration (cpfl1). We show that HDAC inhibition protects cpfl1 cones in vitro, in retinal explant cultures. More importantly, in vivo, a single intravitreal TSA injection significantly increased cone survival for up to 16 days post-injection. In addition, the abnormal, incomplete cone migration pattern in the cpfl1 retina was significantly improved by HDAC inhibition. These findings suggest a crucial role for HDAC activity in primary cone degeneration and highlight a new avenue for future therapy developments for cone dystrophies and retinal diseases associated with impaired cone migration.

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