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Mitrofanis Pavlidis, Tobias Stupp, Rita Naskar, Cani Cengiz, Solon Thanos; Retinal Ganglion Cells Resistant to Advanced Glaucoma: A Postmortem Study of Human Retinas with the Carbocyanine Dye DiI. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(12):5196-5205. doi: 10.1167/iovs.03-0614.
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purpose. The present study was conducted to examine whether the morphology of the retinal ganglion cells is altered in advanced glaucoma. Perikaryal, axonal, and dendritic alterations were monitored in glaucoma-resistant retinal ganglion cells by postvitam application of the fluorescent dye DiI.
methods. The retinas of four amaurotic glaucomatous eyes and four normal eyes enucleated after death were used in this study. The retinas were freed from surrounding tissue, prepared as flatmounts on a nitrocellulose filter, and fixed overnight in 4% paraformaldehyde. The retinal ganglion cells were labeled by introducing crystals of the fluorescent carbocyanine dye DiI, into the optic fiber layer. This dye diffuses along membranes of ganglion cell axons, completely labeling them and their cell bodies and dendrites. Further characterization of the retinas and optic nerves included hematoxylin-eosin and van Gieson histochemical staining as well as immunohistochemistry against glial fibrillary acidic protein.
results. Because of the advanced stage of the disease, the retinas were almost completely depleted of ganglion cells, which had degenerated and therefore could not be stained. The few remaining ganglion cells were considered to be resistant to glaucoma. They showed drastic morphologic alterations, such as abnormal axonal beading, the cell bodies were normal in size but had irregular silhouettes or swellings, and there were fewer dendritic bifurcations. The size of the dendritic trees was smaller, implicating pruning of smaller dendritic branches. Glial cells were also detected immunocytochemically indicating their involvement in the pathologic course of glaucoma.
conclusions. The data suggest that the few ganglion cells that survive the elevated intraocular pressure associated with loss of visual function display morphologic changes that are manifested both on the cell body and on their intraretinal processes, including axons and dendrites.
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