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Alterations in NMDA receptor expression during retinal degeneration in the RCS rat

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2002

TATIANA GRÜNDER
Affiliation:
Department of Pathophysiology of Vision and Neuro-Ophthalmology, Division of Experimental Ophthalmology, University Eye Hospital, Röntgenweg 11, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany
KONRAD KOHLER
Affiliation:
Department of Pathophysiology of Vision and Neuro-Ophthalmology, Division of Experimental Ophthalmology, University Eye Hospital, Röntgenweg 11, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany
ELKE GUENTHER
Affiliation:
Department of Pathophysiology of Vision and Neuro-Ophthalmology, Division of Experimental Ophthalmology, University Eye Hospital, Röntgenweg 11, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany

Abstract

To determine how a progressive loss of photoreceptor cells and the concomitant loss of glutamatergic input to second-order neurons can affect inner-retinal signaling, glutamate receptor expression was analyzed in the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rat, an animal model of retinitis pigmentosa. Immunohistochemistry was performed on retinal sections of RCS rats and congenic controls between postnatal (P) day 3 and the aged adult (up to P350) using specific antibodies against N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subunits. All NMDA subunits (NR1, NR2A–2D) were expressed in control and dystrophic retinas at all ages, and distinct patterns of labeling were found in horizontal cells, subpopulations of amacrine cells and ganglion cells, as well as in the outer and inner plexiform layer (IPL). NR1 immunoreactivity in the inner plexiform layer of adult control retinas was concentrated in two distinct bands, indicating a synaptic localization of NMDA receptors in the OFF and ON signal pathways. In the RCS retina, these bands of NR1 immunoreactivity in the IPL were much weaker in animals older than P40. In parallel, NR2B immunoreactivity in the outer plexiform layer (OPL) of RCS rats was always reduced compared to controls and vanished between P40 and P120. The most striking alteration observed in the degenerating retina, however, was a strong expression of NR1 immunoreactivity in Müller cell processes in the inner retina which was not observed in control animals and which was present prior to any visible sign of photoreceptor degeneration. The results suggest functional changes in glutamatergic receptor signaling in the dystrophic retina and a possible involvement of Müller cells in early processes of this disease.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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