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Arthur J. Weber, Christine D. Harman; BDNF Preserves the Dendritic Morphology of α and β Ganglion Cells in the Cat Retina after Optic Nerve Injury. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(6):2456-2463. doi: 10.1167/iovs.07-1325.
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purpose. To examine whether brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a potent neuroprotectant in the mammalian retina, also plays a role in preserving the dendritic integrity of the surviving ganglion cells after optic nerve injury.
methods. Single ganglion cells from cats that underwent unilateral optic nerve crush and received no treatment or nerve crush combined with intravitreous treatment of the affected eye with BDNF were labeled intracellularly, reconstructed using confocal microscopy, and compared quantitatively.
results. Optic nerve injury produced a significant decrease in the soma, dendritic field size, and dendritic complexity of α cells. β Cells also displayed a significant decrease in soma size, but their dendritic fields were not affected as severely as those of α cells. Intravitreous treatment of the eye with BDNF at the time of injury preserved the normal somal and dendritic morphologies of both α and β cells.
conclusions. BDNF, in addition to promoting ganglion cell survival, plays an important role in preserving the somal and dendritic morphologies of the surviving ganglion cells, a necessary precursor to maintaining normal visual function. Ganglion cells, however, are not created equal with respect to their responses to nerve injury or to treatment of the eye with BDNF. Thus, development of effective treatment strategies for preserving ganglion cell function in optic nerve–related diseases mandates a clearer understanding of the cellular response characteristics of the specific neurons involved.
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