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Kenneth R. Alexander, Claire S. Barnes, Gerald A. Fishman; ON-Pathway Dysfunction and Timing Properties of the Flicker ERG in Carriers of X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(9):4017-4025. doi: 10.1167/iovs.02-0989.
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purpose. Carriers of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) frequently show prolonged implicit times of the flicker electroretinogram (ERG). This study tested the hypothesis that a preferential response attenuation within the cone depolarizing (ON) bipolar cell (DBC) pathway is a major contributing factor.
methods. Light-adapted, full-field ERGs were recorded from 10 XLRP carriers and 12 visually normal control subjects. Fundamental amplitudes and phases of ERG responses to sinusoidally flickering stimuli at temporal frequencies ranging from 8 to 96 Hz were analyzed within the framework of a recent vector summation model of the cone system ERG to test for evidence of a response attenuation within the DBC pathway. In addition, ERG responses to sawtooth flicker were examined for a reduced b- to d-wave amplitude ratio, indicative of ON pathway dysfunction.
results. The carriers’ fundamental response phases at 32 Hz correlated significantly with their log ratios of response amplitudes at 32 versus 12 Hz (r = 0.89, P < 0.001) and with their log b- to d-wave amplitude ratios (r = 0.71, P < 0.05), both of which were used as indices of response attenuation within the DBC pathway. A control experiment demonstrated that a reduced sensitivity of cone phototransduction made at most only a minimal contribution to the timing changes in the carriers’ flicker ERG responses.
conclusions. The overall pattern of results indicates that a preferential response attenuation within the DBC pathway is the primary source of timing changes in the flicker ERGs of these carriers of XLRP. These findings illustrate the value of analyzing ERG responses to flickering stimuli at multiple temporal frequencies to evaluate mechanisms of disease action in photoreceptor degenerations.
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