The significance of neuronal and glial cell changes in the rat retina during oxygen-induced retinopathy
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- Fletcher, E.L., Downie, L.E., Hatzopoulos, K. et al. Doc Ophthalmol (2010) 120: 67. doi:10.1007/s10633-009-9193-6
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Retinopathy of prematurity is a devastating vascular disease of premature infants. A number of studies indicate that retinal function is affected in this disease. Using the rat model of oxygen-induced retinopathy, it is possible to explore more fully the complex relationship between neuronal, glial and vascular pathology in this condition. This review examines the structural and functional changes that occur in the rat retina following oxygen-induced retinopathy. We highlight that vascular pathology in rats is characterized by aberrant growth of blood vessels into the vitreous at the expense of blood vessel growth into the body of the retina. Moreover, amino acid neurochemistry, a tool for examining neuronal changes in a spatially complete manner reveals widespread changes in amacrine and bipolar cells. In addition, neurochemical anomalies within inner retinal neurons are highly correlated with the absence of retinal vessels. The key cell types that link blood flow with neuronal function are macroglia. Macroglia cells, which in the retina include astrocytes and Müller cells, are affected by oxygen-induced retinopathy. Astrocyte loss occurs in the peripheral retina, while Müller cells show signs of reactive gliosis that is highly localized to regions that are devoid of intraretinal blood vessels. Finally, we propose that treatments, such as blockade of the renin–angiotensin system, that not only targets pathological angiogenesis, but that also promotes re-vascularization of the retina are likely to prove important in the treatment of those with retinopathy of prematurity.