Documenta Ophthalmologica

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 327-346

First online:

Interactions between the retinal pigment epithelium and the neural retina

  • R. H. SteinbergAffiliated withDepartments of Physiology and Ophthalmology, University of California

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The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) interacts with the photoreceptors, which it faces across the subretinal space. In these interactions the RPE acts as three types of cell - epithelium, macrophage, and glia. This review briefly describes selected interactions between the RPE and photoreceptors in ion and water transport, Vitamin A transport, phagocytosis of shed portions of outer segments, ensheathment of photoreceptors outer segments, and electrical responses. The electrical interactions can be recorded at the cornea in the c-wave, fast oscillation, and light peak of the DC electroretinogram (DC-ERG) and electrooculogram (EOG). Each response reflects photoreceptor-RPE interactions in a distinct way. The three responses taken together provide perhaps the best opportunity to learn how pathophysiological conditions alter the interactions between the RPE and photoreceptors.

Key words

electrooculogram electroretinogram photoreceptor retinal pigment epithelium