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Peter Heiduschka, Sven Schnichels, Nico Fuhrmann, Sabine Hofmeister, Ulrich Schraermeyer, Bernd Wissinger, Marcel V. Alavi; Electrophysiological and Histologic Assessment of Retinal Ganglion Cell Fate in a Mouse Model for OPA1-Associated Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(3):1424-1431. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-3606.
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The main disease features of autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) are a bilateral reduction of visual acuity, cecocentral scotoma, and frequently tritanopia, which have been ascribed to a progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and subsequent degeneration of the optic nerve. The main disease-causing gene is OPA1. Here, we examine a mouse carrying a pathogenic mutation in Opa1 by electrophysiological measurements and assess the fate of RGCs.
Two-year-old animals underwent a full examination by electroretinography (ERG) and visually evoked potential (VEP) measurements to assess the function of the outer and inner retina and the optic nerve. Retrograde Fluorogold labeling was performed to determine the number of surviving RGCs and to assess axonal transport by neurofilament counterstaining. Phagocytosis-dependent labeled microglial cells were identified by an Iba-1 staining.
ERG responses were normal in aged Opa1 mice. VEP measurements revealed significantly reduced amplitudes but no change in the latencies in contrast to extended latencies found in glaucoma. Retrograde labeling of RGCs showed a significant reduction in the number of RGCs in Opa1 mice. Long-term experiments revealed the presence of microglial cells with ingested fluorescent dye.
This is the first electrophysiological demonstration of a visual function deficit in aged Opa1 mice. VEP measurements and retrograde labeling experiments show that the number of RGCs is reduced whereas the remaining RGCs and axons function normally. Taken together, these findings support an ascending progress of degeneration from the soma toward the axon.
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