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Am J Pathol. 2012 Apr;180(4):1726-39. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.12.033. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Endogenous erythropoietin protects neuroretinal function in ischemic retinopathy.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Because retinal ischemia is a common cause of vision loss, we sought to determine the effects of ischemia on neuroretinal function and survival in murine oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) and to define the role of endogenous erythropoietin (EPO) in this model. OIR is a reproducible model of ischemia-induced retinal neovascularization; it is used commonly to develop antiangiogenic strategies. We investigated the effects of ischemia in murine OIR on retinal function and neurodegeneration by electroretinography and detailed morphology. OIR was associated with significant neuroretinal dysfunction, with reduced photopic and scotopic ERG responses and reduced b-wave/a-wave ratios consistent with specific inner-retinal dysfunction. OIR resulted in significantly increased apoptosis and atrophy of the inner retina in areas of ischemia. EPO deficiency in heterozygous Epo-Tag transgenic mice was associated with more profound retinal dysfunction after OIR, indicated by a significantly greater suppression of ERG amplitudes, but had no measurable effect on the extent of retinal ischemia, preretinal neovascularization, or neuroretinal degeneration in OIR. Systemic administration of recombinant EPO protected EPO-deficient mice against this additional suppression, but EPO supplementation in wild-type animals with OIR did not rescue neuroretinal dysfunction or degeneration. Murine OIR offers a valuable model of ischemic neuroretinal dysfunction and degeneration in which to investigate adaptive tissue responses and evaluate novel therapeutic approaches. Endogenous EPO can protect neuroretinal function in ischemic retinopathy.

Copyright © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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