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G. Huber, S. C. Beck, C. Imsand, S. Heynen, C. Grimm, Y. Feng, H.-P. Hammes, W. Hoffmann, U. Scheurlen, M. W. Seeliger; Novel Rodent Models for Macular Research. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):6139.
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Many severely visually disabling human retinal disorders involve the central retina, particularly the macula. However, the most common small animal models in research, mouse and rat, do not have a significant central region. Thus, the purpose of this study was to identify small laboratory rodents with a significant central region as potential new models for macular research.
A number of laboratory rodents less commonly used in retinal research was subjected to confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (cSLO), fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography, and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) using standard equipment (Heidelberg Engineering HRA1 and Spectralis, respectively) adapted to small rodent eyes. Existence and degree of expression of a central structure in form of a visual streak was assessed on the basis of topographical differences in vascular organization and retinal thickness, and the results were compared to histomorphological data.
The animals examined showed evidence of a significant visual streak. cSLO angiography and retinal flat mounts revealed that retinal blood vessels typically ramify and narrow into a sparse capillary net at the border of the respective area located superior to the optic nerve. Similar to the macular region, there was an absence of blood vessels in the region with presumably the highest visual performance. The thickening of the retina in the same place was mainly due to an increased length of photoreceptor outer segments.
Three small rodent models with a different degree of retinal centralization were detected and thoroughly examined. The alterations of retinal organization found, in particular the vascular pattern and the increase in structures involved in photon absorption, suggests the presence of a retinal area which may resemble the macula in primates. The results indicate that these rodents may serve to study aspects of macular development and disease, and the preclinical assessment of therapeutic strategies.
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