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Open Access Research article

Progressive morphological changes and impaired retinal function associated with temporal regulation of gene expression after retinal ischemia/reperfusion injury in mice

Byung-Jin Kim12, Terry A Braun3, Robert J Wordinger14 and Abbot F Clark14*

Author Affiliations

1 The North Texas Eye Research Institute, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA

2 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA

3 Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

4 Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Graduate School of Biomedical Science, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA

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Molecular Neurodegeneration 2013, 8:21  doi:10.1186/1750-1326-8-21

Published: 22 June 2013

Abstract

Retinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is an important cause of visual impairment. However, questions remain on the overall I/R mechanisms responsible for progressive damage to the retina. In this study, we used a mouse model of I/R and characterized the pathogenesis by analyzing temporal changes of retinal morphology and function associated with changes in retinal gene expression. Transient ischemia was induced in one eye of C57BL/6 mice by raising intraocular pressure to 120 mmHg for 60 min followed by retinal reperfusion by restoring normal pressure. At various time points post I/R, retinal changes were monitored by histological assessment with H&E staining and by SD-OCT scanning. Retinal function was also measured by scotopic ERG. Temporal changes in retinal gene expression were analyzed using cDNA microarrays and real-time RT-PCR. In addition, retinal ganglion cells and gliosis were observed by immunohistochemistry. H&E staining and SD-OCT scanning showed an initial increase followed by a significant reduction of retinal thickness in I/R eyes accompanied with cell loss compared to contralateral control eyes. The greatest reduction in thickness was in the inner plexiform layer (IPL) and inner nuclear layer (INL). Retinal detachment was observed at days 3 and 7 post- I/R injury. Scotopic ERG a- and b-wave amplitudes and implicit times were significantly impaired in I/R eyes compared to contralateral control eyes. Microarray data showed temporal changes in gene expression involving various gene clusters such as molecular chaperones and inflammation. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining confirmed Müller cell gliosis in the damaged retinas. The time-dependent changes in retinal morphology were significantly associated with functional impairment and altered retinal gene expression. We demonstrated that I/R-mediated morphological changes the retina closely associated with functional impairment as well as temporal changes in retinal gene expression. Our findings will provide further understanding of molecular pathogenesis associated with ischemic injury to the retina.