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Jan M. Provis, Trent Sandercoe, Anita E. Hendrickson; Astrocytes and Blood Vessels Define the Foveal Rim during Primate Retinal Development. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2000;41(10):2827-2836.
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purpose. To investigate the relationship between development of the perifoveal
blood vessels and formation of the foveal depression.
methods. Retinal sections and flatmounts from monkeys aged between fetal day
(Fd)80 and 2 years of age were double labeled using antisera to CD31 or
von Willebrand factor to detect vascular endothelial cells and
antiserum to glial fibrillary acidic protein to detect astrocytes.
Sections were studied by fluorescence or confocal microscopy.
results. From Fd88 to 115, vessels on the horizontal meridian were found
only at the level of the ganglion cell layer (GCL)–inner plexiform
layer (IPL) border where they form the ganglion cell layer plexus
(GCP). Stellate astrocytes accompany GCP vessels and extend closer to
the fovea than vessels. The foveal avascular zone was present within
the GCP at Fd101, and at Fd105 a shallow foveal depression encircled by
the GCP was present. The GCP foveal margin had the same dimensions as
the adult foveal pit. Both blood vessels and astrocytes were excluded
from the emerging fovea throughout development. After Fd140, capillary
plexuses in the outer retina anastomosed with the GCP on the foveal
slope to form a perifoveal plexus, but this plexus did not mature until
a month or more after birth. After Fd142, astrocytes rapidly
disappeared from the GCP and most of central retina.
conclusions. An avascular area is outlined by the GCP before the foveal pit begins
to form, suggesting that molecular factors in this region exclude both
vessels and astrocytes. These factors may also guide neuronal migration
to form the pit. Because the perifoveal plexus is formed during late
gestation, both capillary growth and foveal development may be affected
adversely by prematurity.
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