Dang, T.M., Tsai, T.I., Vingrys, A.J. et al. Doc Ophthalmol (2011) 122: 149. doi:10.1007/s10633-011-9269-y
The electroretinogram is a widely used objective measure of visual function. The best characterised feature of the full-field dark-adapted flash ERG, is the earliest corneal negativity, the a-wave, which primarily reflects photoreceptoral responses. However, recent studies in humans and primates show that there are post-receptoral contributions to the a-wave. It is not clear if such contributions exist in the rat a-wave. We consider this issue in the rat a-wave, using intravitreal application of pharmacological agents that isolate post-receptoral ON-pathways and OFF-pathways. In anaesthetised adult long Evans rats, we show that the ON-pathway (2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid, APB sensitive) makes negligible contribution to the a-wave. In contrast, CNQX (6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione) or PDA (cis-piperidine-2,3-dicarboxylic acid) sensitive mechanisms modify the a-wave in two ways. First, for bright luminous energies, OFF-pathway inhibition (CNQX or PDA) results in a 22% reduction to the early phase of the leading edge of the a-wave up to 14 ms. Second, OFF-pathway inhibition removed a corneal negativity that resides between the a-wave trough and the b-wave onset.