PloS one

Destructive Changes in the Neuronal Structure of the FVB/N Mouse Retina.

PMID 26091175


We applied a series of selective antibodies for labeling the various cell types in the mammalian retina. These were used to identify the progressive loss of neurons in the FVB/N mouse, a model of early onset retinal degeneration produced by a mutation in the pde6b gene. The immunocytochemical studies, together with electroretinogram (ERG) recordings, enabled us to examine the time course of the degenerative changes that extended from the photoreceptors to the ganglion cells at the proximal end of the retina. Our study indicates that photoreceptors in FVB/N undergo a rapid degeneration within three postnatal weeks, and that there is a concomitant loss of retinal neurons in the inner nuclear layer. Although the loss of rods was detected at an earlier age during which time M- and S-opsin molecules were translocated to the cone nuclei; by 6 months all cones had also degenerated. Neuronal remodeling was also seen in the second-order neurons with horizontal cells sprouting processes proximally and dendritic retraction in rod-driven bipolar cells. Interestingly, the morphology of cone-driven bipolar cells were affected less by the disease process. The cellular structure of inner retinal neurons, i.e., ChAT amacrine cells, ganglion cells, and melanopsin-positive ganglion cells did not exhibit any gross changes of cell densities and appeared to be relatively unaffected by the massive photoreceptor degeneration in the distal retina. However, Muller cell processes began to express GFAP at their endfeet at p14, and it climbed progressively to the cell's distal ends by 6 months. Our study indicates that FVB/N mouse provides a useful model with which to assess possible intervention strategies to arrest photoreceptor death in related diseases.