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Diego García-Ayuso, Johnny Di Pierdomenico, Gema Esquiva, Francisco Manuel Nadal-Nicolás, Isabel Pinilla, Nicolás Cuenca, Manuel Vidal-Sanz, Marta Agudo-Barriuso, María P. Villegas-Pérez; Inherited Photoreceptor Degeneration Causes the Death of Melanopsin-Positive Retinal Ganglion Cells and Increases Their Coexpression of Brn3a. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(8):4592-4604. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-16808.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To study the population of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (melanopsin-expressing RGCs, m+RGCs) in P23H-1 rats, a rat model of inherited photoreceptor degeneration.
At postnatal (P) times P30, P365, and P540, retinas from P23H dystrophic rats (line 1, rapid degeneration; and line 3, slow degeneration) and Sprague Dawley (SD) rats (control) were dissected as whole-mounts and immunodetected for melanopsin and/or Brn3a. The dendritic arborization of m+RGCs and the numbers of Brn3a+RGCs and m+RGCs were quantified and their retinal distribution and coexpression analyzed.
In SD rats, aging did not affect the population of Brn3a+RGCs or m+RGCs or the percentage that showed coexpression (0.27%). Young P23H-1 rats had a significantly lower number of Brn3a+RGCs and showed a further decline with age. The population of m+RGCs in young P23H-1 rats was similar to that found in SD rats and decreased by 22.6% and 28.2% at P365 and P540, respectively, similarly to the decrease of the Brn3a+RGCs. At these ages the m+RGCs showed a decrease of their dendritic arborization parameters, which was similar in both the P23H-1 and P23H-3 lines. The percentage of coexpression of Brn3a was, however, already significantly higher at P30 (3.31%) and increased significantly with age (10.65% at P540).
Inherited photoreceptor degeneration was followed by secondary loss of Brn3a+RGCs and m+RGCs. Surviving m+RGCs showed decreased dendritic arborization parameters and increased coexpression of Brn3a and melanopsin, phenotypic and molecular changes that may represent an effort to resist degeneration and/or preferential survival of m+RGCs capable of synthesizing Brn3a.
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