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Yuchun Tsai, Bin Lu, Alexander V. Ljubimov, Sergey Girman, Fred N. Ross-Cisneros, Alfredo A. Sadun, Clive N. Svendsen, Robert M. Cohen, Shaomei Wang; Ocular Changes in TgF344-AD Rat Model of Alzheimer's Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(1):523-534. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-12888.
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive decline in learning, memory, and executive functions. In addition to cognitive and behavioral deficits, vision disturbances have been reported in early stage of AD, well before the diagnosis is clearly established. To further investigate ocular abnormalities, a novel AD transgenic rat model was analyzed.
Transgenic (Tg) rats (TgF344-AD) heterozygous for human mutant APPswe/PS1ΔE9 and age-matched wild type (WT) rats, as well as 20 human postmortem retinal samples from both AD and healthy donors were used. Visual function in the rodent was analyzed using the optokinetic response and luminance threshold recording from the superior colliculus. Immunohistochemistry on retinal and brain sections was used to detect various markers including amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques.
As expected, Aβ plaques were detected in the hippocampus, cortex, and retina of Tg rats. Plaque-like structures were also found in two AD human whole-mount retinas. The choroidal thickness was significantly reduced in both Tg rat and in AD human eyes when compared with age-matched controls. Tg rat eyes also showed hypertrophic retinal pigment epithelial cells, inflammatory cells, and upregulation of complement factor C3. Although visual acuity was lower in Tg than in WT rats, there was no significant difference in the retinal ganglion cell number and retinal vasculature.
In this study, we observed pathological changes in the choroid and in RPE cells in the TgF344-AD rat model; choroidal thinning was observed further in human AD retina. Along with Aβ deposition, the inflammatory response was manifested by microglial recruitment and complement activation. Further studies are needed to elucidate the significance and mechanisms of these pathological changes.
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