October 1991
Volume 32, Issue 11
Articles  |   October 1991
Prenatal ethanol exposure alters scotopic and photopic components of adult rat electroretinograms.
Author Affiliations
  • L M Katz
    Department of Ophthalmology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.
  • D A Fox
    Department of Ophthalmology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science October 1991, Vol.32, 2861-2872. doi:
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      L M Katz, D A Fox; Prenatal ethanol exposure alters scotopic and photopic components of adult rat electroretinograms.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1991;32(11):2861-2872.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Ocular malformations and visual deficits are pathognomic of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). However, there are no reports on retinal visual function. To determine if prenatal (human second-trimester equivalent) or prenatal plus 10 days of postnatal (human third-trimester equivalent) ethanol exposure produced scotopic and/or photopic deficits in adult hooded rats, electroretinography (ERG) was used to examine rod and cone, increment threshold, dark adaptation, and paired-flash amplitude recovery functions. The rhodopsin content per eye also was determined. Five main results were found. First, voltage-log intensity and latency-log intensity functions, generated from single-flash ERGs in fully dark-adapted rats, showed increases in absolute threshold and latency and decreases in response amplitude. Second, cone ERGs had latency increases. Third, there were decreases in the scotopic and photopic critical flicker-fusion frequencies, increment threshold functions, and absolute and relative refractory periods. Fourth, rod sensitivity, range, and rate of dark adaptation were decreased. Fifth, rhodopsin content per eye was decreased. These data showed that prenatal ethanol exposure produces long-term deficits in retinal sensitivity, amplitude, light and dark adaptation, temporal processing, and excitability. Larger deficits occurred in the scotopic than photopic system and were produced with an additional 10 days of postnatal ethanol exposure. Alterations in photoreceptors and other cells of the distal retina probably contributed to these deficits. The relevance and applicability of these data to FAS and subclinical alcohol embryopathy have yet to be demonstrated; however, they suggest that similar retinal alterations may occur in human FAS.


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