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Paul J. DeMarco, Gary L. Yarbrough, Christopher W. Yee, George Y. McLean, Botir T. Sagdullaev, Sherry L. Ball, Maureen A. McCall; Stimulation via a Subretinally Placed Prosthetic Elicits Central Activity and Induces a Trophic Effect on Visual Responses. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(2):916-926. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-0811.
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purpose. Subretinal prosthetics are designed to electrically stimulate second-order cells, replacing dysfunctional photoreceptors in diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). For functional vision to occur, this signal must also reach central visual structures. In the current study, a subretinally implanted prosthetic was evaluated in the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rat model of RP, to determine its capacity to activate the retinotectal pathway.
methods. Prosthetic implants were placed in RCS and wild-type (WT) rats at 4 weeks of age and evaluated 3 months later. Control rats underwent sham surgery, implantation with inactive prosthetics, or no treatment. Implant- and visible-evoked responses were isolated and evaluated in the superior colliculus (SC).
results. In WT and RCS rats with active prosthetics, implant-driven responses were found in 100% of WT and 64% of RCS rats and were confined to a small SC region that corresponded to the retinal sector containing the implant and differed from visible-evoked responses. In addition, visible-evoked responses were more robust at sites that received implant input compared to sites that did not. These effects were not seen in WT rats or RCS control animals; although a general trophic effect on the number of responsive sites was observed in all RCS rats with surgery compared to untreated RCS rats.
conclusions. Direct activation of the retina by a subretinal implant induces activity in the SC of RCS rats, suggesting that these implants have some capacity to replace dysfunctional photoreceptors. The data also provide evidence for implant-induced neurotrophic effects as a consequence of both its presence and its activity in the retina.
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