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Jennifer L. Kielczewski, Mary Ellen Pease, Harry A. Quigley; The Effect of Experimental Glaucoma and Optic Nerve Transection on Amacrine Cells in the Rat Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(9):3188-3196. doi: 10.1167/iovs.05-0321.
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purpose. To detect alterations in amacrine cells associated with retinal ganglion cell (RGC) depletion caused by experimental optic nerve transection and glaucoma.
methods. Intraocular pressure (IOP) was elevated unilaterally in 18 rats by translimbal trabecular laser treatment, and eyes were studied at 1 (n = 6), 2 (n = 5), and 3 (n = 7) months. Complete optic nerve transection was performed unilaterally in nine rats with survival for 1 (n = 4) and 3 (n = 5) months. Serial cryosections (five per eye) were immunohistochemically labeled with rabbit anti-γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and anti-glycine antibodies. Cells in the ganglion cell and inner nuclear layers that labeled for GABA or glycine were counted in a masked fashion under bright-field microscopy. Additional labeling with other RGC and amacrine antigens was also performed. RGC loss was quantified by axon counts.
results. Amacrine cells identified by GABA and glycine labeling were not significantly affected by experimental glaucoma, with a mean decrease of 15% compared with bilaterally untreated control cells (557 ± 186 neurons/mm [glaucoma] versus 653.9 ± 114.4 neurons/mm [control] of retina; P = 0.15, t-test). There was no significant trend for amacrine cell counts to be lower in eyes with fewer RGCs (r = −0.39, P = 0.11). By contrast, there was highly significant loss of GABA and glycine staining 3 months after nerve transection, both in the treated and the fellow eyes (P < 0.0001, t-test). However, there was a substantial number of remaining amacrine cells in transected retinas, as indicated by labeling for calretinin and calbindin.
conclusions. Experimental glaucoma causes minimal change in amacrine cells and their expression of neurotransmitters. After nerve transection, neurotransmitter presence declines, but many amacrine cell bodies remain. Differences among optic nerve injury models, as well as effects on “untreated” fellow eyes, should be recognized.
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