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Salma Ferdous, Kristie L. Liao, Isabelle D. Gefke, Vivian R. Summers, Wenfei Wu, Kevin J. Donaldson, Yong-Kyu Kim, Jana T. Sellers, Jendayi A. Dixon, Debresha A. Shelton, Shanu Markand, Somin M. Kim, Nan Zhang, Jeffrey H. Boatright, John M. Nickerson; Age-Related Retinal Changes in Wild-Type C57BL/6J Mice Between 2 and 32 Months. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(7):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.7.9.
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The purpose of this study was to extend our understanding of how aging affects normal retina function and morphology in wild-type C57BL/6J mice, by analyzing electrophysiological recordings and in vivo and post mortem anatomy.
Electroretinograms (ERGs), spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), and confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope (cSLO) in vivo images were obtained from mice between the ages of 2 and 32 months in four groups: group 1 (<0.5 years), group 2 (1.0–1.5 years), group 3 (1.5–2.0 years), and group 4 (>2.0 years). Afterward, mouse bodies and eyes were weighed. Eyes were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and cell nuclei were quantified.
With aging, mice showed a significant reduction in both a- and b-wave ERG amplitudes in scotopic and photopic conditions. Additionally, total retina and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness, as measured by SD-OCT images, were significantly reduced in older groups. The cSLO images showed an increase in auto-fluorescence at the photoreceptor-RPE interface as age increases. H&E cell nuclei quantification showed significant reduction in the ONL in older ages, but no differences in the inner nuclear layer (INL) or ganglion cell layer (GCL).
By using multiple age groups and extending the upper age limit of our animals to approximately 2.65 years (P970), we found that natural aging causes negative effects on retinal function and morphology in a gradual, rather than abrupt, process. Future studies should investigate the exact mechanisms that contribute to these gradual declines in order to discover pathways that could potentially serve as therapeutic targets.
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