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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1989 Jan;30(1):37-43.

Retinal light damage reduces autofluorescent pigment deposition in the retinal pigment epithelium.

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  • 1University of Missouri School of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia 65212.


Lipofuscin in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is thought to be derived from phagocytosed photoreceptor outer segment disc membranes. Based on this hypothesis, one would predict that the rate of lipofuscin deposition in the RPE would be proportional to the density of photoreceptor cells in the retina. In previous studies it was demonstrated that specific loss of photoreceptor cells due to a genetic defect resulted in a substantial decrease in the rate of age-related lipofuscin accumulation in the RPE. In order to confirm that this decreased RPE lipofuscin deposition was directly related to reduced photoreceptor cell density, experiments were conducted to determine whether light-induced photoreceptor cell destruction affected RPE lipofuscin content. The effects of retinal light damage on RPE autofluorescent pigment accumulation resulting from both normal aging and vitamin E deficiency were examined. Starting immediately after weaning, albino Fisher 344 rats were fed diets either containing or lacking vitamin E. All animals were maintained on a 12 hr/12 hr light/dark cycle. During the light phases of the cycles, the cage illuminance for one-half the animals in each dietary group was 750 lux, while the remaining rats were exposed to a light level of 15 lux. Illumination was provided by 40 watt cool-white fluorescent lamps. After 17 weeks, rats in both dietary groups that were maintained under the higher light intensity had substantially reduced photoreceptor cell densities relative to animals in the same dietary group maintained under dim light conditions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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