Retinal ganglion cell numbers and delayed retinal ganglion cell death in the P23H rat retina.Exp Eye Res. 2010 Dec; 91(6):800-10.EE
The P23H-1 rat strain carries a rhodopsin mutation frequently found in retinitis pigmentosa patients. We investigated the progressive degeneration of the inner retina in this strain, focussing on retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) fate. Our data show that photoreceptor death commences in the ventral retina, spreading to the whole retina as the rat ages. Quantification of the total number of RGCs identified by Fluorogold tracing and Brn3a expression, disclosed that the population of RGCs in young P23H rats is significantly smaller than in its homologous SD strain. In the mutant strain, there is also RGC loss with age: RGCs show their first symptoms of degeneration at P180, as revealed by an abnormal expression of cytoskeletal proteins which, at P365, translates into a significant loss of RGCs, that may ultimately be caused by displaced inner retinal vessels that drag and strangulate their axons. RGC axonal compression begins also in the ventral retina and spreads from there causing RGC loss through the whole retinal surface. These decaying processes are common to several models of photoreceptor loss, but show some differences between inherited and light-induced photoreceptor degeneration and should therefore be studied to a better understanding of photoreceptor degeneration and when developing therapies for these diseases.