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Johnny Di Pierdomenico, Ana Martínez-Vacas, Daniel Hernández-Muñoz, Ana M. Gómez-Ramírez, Francisco Javier Valiente-Soriano, Marta Agudo-Barriuso, Manuel Vidal-Sanz, María P. Villegas-Pérez, Diego García-Ayuso; Coordinated Intervention of Microglial and Müller Cells in Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(3):47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.3.47.
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To analyze the role of microglial and Müller cells in the formation of rings of photoreceptor degeneration caused by phototoxicity.
Two-month-old Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to light and processed 1, 2, or 3 months later. Retinas were dissected as whole-mounts, immunodetected for microglial cells, Müller cells, and S- and L/M-cones and analyzed using fluorescence, thunder imaging, and confocal microscopy. Cone populations were automatically counted and isodensity maps constructed to document cone topography.
Phototoxicity causes a significant progressive loss of S- and L/M-cones of up to 68% and 44%, respectively, at 3 months after light exposure (ALE). One month ALE, we observed rings of cone degeneration in the photosensitive area of the superior retina. Two and 3 months ALE, these rings had extended to the central and inferior retina. Within the rings of cone degeneration, there were degenerating cones, often activated microglial cells, and numerous radially oriented processes of Müller cells that showed increased expression of intermediate filaments. Between 1 and 3 months ALE, the rings coalesced, and at the same time the microglial cells resumed a mosaic-like distribution, and there was a decrease of Müller cell gliosis at the areas devoid of cones.
Light-induced photoreceptor degeneration proceeds with rings of cone degeneration, as observed in inherited retinal degenerations in which cone death is secondary to rod degeneration. The spatiotemporal relationship of cone death microglial cell activation and Müller cell gliosis within the rings of cone degeneration suggests that, although both glial cells are involved in the formation of the rings, they may have coordinated actions and, while microglial cells may be more involved in photoreceptor phagocytosis, Müller cells may be more involved in cone and microglial cell migration, retinal remodeling and glial seal formation.
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