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Julie A. Mocko, Moon Kim, Amanda E. Faulkner, Yang Cao, Vincent T. Ciavatta, Machelle T. Pardue; Effects of Subretinal Electrical Stimulation in Mer-KO Mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(7):4223-4230. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-6750.
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Subretinal electrical stimulation (SES) from microphotodiode arrays protects photoreceptors in the RCS rat model of retinitis pigmentosa. The authors examined whether merkd mice, which share a Mertk mutation with RCS rats, showed similar neuroprotective effects from SES.
Merkd mice were implanted with a microphotodiode array at postnatal day (P) 14. Weekly electroretinograms (ERGs) followed by retinal histology at week 4 were compared with those of age-matched controls. RT-PCR for fibroblast growth factor beta (Fgf2), ciliary nerve trophic factor (Cntf), glial-derived neurotrophic factor (Gdnf), insulin growth factor 1 (Igf1), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (Gfap) was performed on retinas at 1 week after surgery. Rates of degeneration using ERG parameters were compared between merkd mice and RCS rats from P28 to P42.
SES-treated merkd mice showed no differences in ERG a- and b-wave amplitudes or photoreceptor numbers compared with controls. However, the expression of Fgf2 and Cntf was greater (6.5 ± 1.9- and 2.5 ± 0.5-fold, respectively; P < 0.02) in SES-treated merkd retinas. Rates of degeneration were faster for dark-adapted maximal b-wave, log σ, and oscillatory potentials in merkd mice than in RCS rats.
Although SES upregulated Fgf2 in merkd retinas, as reported previously for RCS retinas, this was not accompanied by neuroprotection of photoreceptors. Comparisons of ERG responses from merkd mice and RCS rats across different ages showed inner retinal dysfunction in merkd mice but not in RCS rats. This inner retinal dysfunction and the faster rate of degeneration in merkd mice may produce a retinal environment that is not responsive to neuroprotection from SES.
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