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Sharee Kuny, Frédéric Gaillard, Silvina C. Mema, Paul R. Freund, Kang Zhang, Ian M. MacDonald, Janet R. Sparrow, Yves Sauvé; Inner Retina Remodeling in a Mouse Model of Stargardt-like Macular Dystrophy (STGD3). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(4):2248-2262. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.09-4718.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To investigate the impact of progressive age-related photoreceptor degeneration on retinal integrity in Stargardt-like macular dystrophy (STGD3).
The structural design of the inner retina of the ELOVL4 transgenic mouse model of STGD3 was compared with that of age-matched littermate wild-type (WT) mice from 1 to 24 months of age by using immunohistofluorescence and confocal microscopy and by relying on antibodies against cell-type–specific markers, synapse-associated proteins, and neurotransmitters.
Müller cell reactivity occurred at the earliest age studied, before photoreceptor loss. This finding is perhaps not surprising, considering the cell's ubiquitous roles in retina homeostasis. Second-order neurons displayed salient morphologic changes as a function of photoreceptoral input loss. Age-related sprouting of dendritic fibers from rod bipolar and horizontal cells into the ONL did not occur. In contrast, with the loss of photoreceptor sensory input, these second-order neurons progressively bore fewer synapses. After rod loss, the few remaining cones showed abnormal opsin expression, revealing tortuous branched axons. After complete ONL loss (beyond 18 months of age), localized areas of extreme retinal disruptions were observed in the central retina. RPE cell invasion, dense networks of strongly reactive Müller cell processes, and invagination of axons and blood vessels were distinctive features of these regions. In addition, otherwise unaffected cholinergic amacrine cells displayed severe perturbation of their cell bodies and synaptic plexi in these areas.
Remodeling in ELOVL4 transgenic mice follows a pattern similar to that reported after other types of hereditary retinopathies in animals and humans, pointing to a potentially common pathophysiologic mechanism.
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