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Robin Sharma, Christina Schwarz, Jennifer J. Hunter, Grazyna Palczewska, Krzysztof Palczewski, David R. Williams; Formation and Clearance of All-Trans-Retinol in Rods Investigated in the Living Primate Eye With Two-Photon Ophthalmoscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(1):604-613. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-20061.
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Two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) imaging has potential as a functional tool for tracking visual pigment regeneration in the living eye. Previous studies have shown that all-trans-retinol is likely the chief source of time-varying TPEF from photoreceptors. Endogenous TPEF from retinol could provide the specificity desired for tracking the visual cycle. However, in vivo characterization of native retinol kinetics is complicated by visual stimulation from the imaging beam. We have developed an imaging scheme for overcoming these challenges and monitored the formation and clearance of retinol.
Three macaques were imaged by using an in vivo two-photon ophthalmoscope. Endogenous TPEF was excited at 730 nm and recorded through the eye's pupil for more than 90 seconds. Two-photon excited fluorescence increased with onset of light and plateaued within 40 seconds, at which point, brief incremental stimuli were delivered at 561 nm. The responses of rods to stimulation were analyzed by using first-order kinetics.
Two-photon excited fluorescence resulting from retinol production corresponded to the fraction of rhodopsin bleached. The photosensitivity of rhodopsin was estimated to be 6.88 ± 5.50 log scotopic troland. The rate of retinol clearance depended on intensity of incremental stimulation. Clearance was faster for stronger stimuli and time constants ranged from 50 to 300 seconds.
This study demonstrates a method for rapidly measuring the rate of clearance of retinol in vivo. Moreover, TPEF generated due to retinol can be used as a measure of rhodopsin depletion, similar to densitometry. This enhances the utility of two-photon ophthalmoscopy as a technique for evaluating the visual cycle in the living eye.
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