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Philippe Donatien, Glen Jeffery; Correlation between Rod Photoreceptor Numbers and Levels of Ocular Pigmentation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(4):1198-1203.
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purpose. Ocular melanin synthesis modulates rod photoreceptor production, because in albino eyes, rod numbers are reduced by approximately 30%. In this study, rod numbers and ocular rhodopsin concentrations were measured in intermediate pigmentation phenotypes to determine whether proportional reductions in melanin are correlated with proportional changes in rod numbers. Further, patterns of cell production and death were examined around the time of birth, when rod production peaks, to determine whether there are abnormalities in these features associated with hypopigmentation.
methods. Four mouse pigmentation phenotypes were used: fully pigmented, albino, Beige, and Himalayan. The latter two are intermediate-pigmentation phenotypes, with Beige having markedly more pigment than Himalayan. Ocular melanin concentrations were measured during development and at maturity. Rods were counted at maturity and measurements of ocular rhodopsin undertaken. Mitotic and pyknotic cells were also counted in neonates.
results. Rods and ocular rhodopsin were reduced in both Beige and Himalayan mice below levels found in fully pigmented mice, but not to levels found in albino animals. This was more marked in Himalayan than Beige mice, reflecting the lower concentration of melanin found in the former compared with the latter, both in development and at maturity. Although patterns of cell production were elevated in the hypopigmented animals, such patterns varied.
conclusions. Rod numbers are modulated within a range between that in fully pigmented and albino phenotypes by the concentration of ocular melanin. However, in these animals, there is no obvious correlation between these events and patterns of cell production and death in neonates.
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