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The ageing photoreceptor

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2007

ALEXANDER CUNEA
Affiliation:
Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, UK University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
GLEN JEFFERY
Affiliation:
Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, UK

Abstract

With age many retinal neurons are lost. In humans the rod photoreceptor population in the perimacular region is subject to approximately 30% loss over life. Those that remain have been reported to suffer from extensive convolutions and localized swellings of their outer segments abnormally increasing their disc content and outer segment length. Here we examine quantitatively age-related changes in rat rod photoreceptors. The rat retina is ∼97% rod dominated. Here, aged rods showed significant reductions in outer segment length. The discs in their outer segments had a similar density, irrespective of whether they were young or old, however, in aged animals a higher proportion were misregistered. Surprisingly, in all of the tissue examined, we found no evidence for any convolution of outer segments or localized swelling as reported in humans, rather all remained straight. There are methodological differences between the research reported here and that undertaken on human retinae. There are also major differences in overall retinal architecture between humans and rodents that could contribute to differences in the aging process of individual cells. If it is the case that individual photoreceptors age differently in rodents compared to humans, it may pose significant problems for the use of this animal model in studies of ageing and age related outer retinal disease.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2007 Cambridge University Press

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