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Leonard Hetherington, Malcolm Benn, Peter J. Coffey, Raymond D. Lund; Sensory Capacity of the Royal College of Surgeons Rat. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2000;41(12):3979-3983.
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purpose. To apply noninvasive tests for examining visual and other sensory
functions of pigmented Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats compared
with pigmented and albino control animals.
methods. Rats aged 3 and 7 months were tested with a general neurologic
examination that assessed visual, auditory, tactile, and whisker
displacement responses. Photophobic responses and visual discrimination
were also measured.
results. Dystrophic RCS rats failed the visual presentation tests, even at 3
months of age, and showed diminished performance on tactile tests.
Auditory and whisker displacement performances were normal. Albino rats
also showed diminished performance on the visual test, particularly to
stimuli presented in the upper visual field. Photophobic responses were
diminished in the dystrophic RCS rats compared with the pigmented
control animals. Albino animals showed heightened photophobia. The
dystrophic rats failed to reach criterion levels of performance on the
visual discrimination test even with gratings of 0.045 cyc/deg.
conclusions. The tests used discriminate deteriorated complex visual functions in
RCS rats at ages when some simple reflexes can still be demonstrated.
As such, they provide easily executed tests for screening for the
effects of reparative treatments such as transplantation,
administration of growth factors, and gene transfer technology. The
integrity of whisker and auditory function are important when using
tests requiring polysensory inputs. The somatosensory defect is
surprising but may be useful in searching for the gene locus of the
retinal disorder. The aberrations seen in the albino rats may be
attributable to the effects of light damage and unfiltered
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