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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2001 Dec;42(13):3216-22.

Atrophy of relay neurons in magno- and parvocellular layers in the lateral geniculate nucleus in experimental glaucoma.

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Ophthalmic Pathology Laboratory, Department of Ophthalmology, St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, 1 Spadina Crescent, Suite 125, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2J5.



To determine whether in glaucoma there is atrophy of relay neurons in magnocellular and/or parvocellular lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) layers projecting to the visual cortex and to compare the degree of neuronal atrophy in magnocellular layers with that in parvocellular layers.


Seven cynomolgus monkeys with unilateral experimentally induced glaucoma and five control monkeys were studied. The left LGN neurons in magnocellular layer 1 and parvocellular layers 4 and 6, connected to the right glaucomatous eye were examined. Immunocytochemistry with antibody to parvalbumin was used to specifically label relay neurons connecting to the visual cortex. Neuronal cell body cross-sectional area was estimated using unbiased point-counting methodology. Experimental and control groups were compared using t-tests. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) tests were used to compare the percentage of decrease in mean neuronal area between layers 1, 4, and 6, as a function of percentage of optic nerve fiber loss or mean IOP. There was significant correlation between percentage of optic nerve fiber loss and mean IOP.


The mean cross-sectional area of relay neurons in magnocellular layer 1 and parvocellular layers 4 and 6 were significantly decreased in glaucoma compared with controls by 28%, 37%, and 45%, respectively. Neuronal area decreased in a linear fashion, with increasing optic nerve fiber loss or increasing mean IOP for layers 1, 4, and 6. The percentage of neuronal shrinkage in each of parvocellular layers 4 and 6, as a function of optic nerve fiber loss (P = 0.05; P = 0.001, respectively) or mean IOP (P = 0.046; P = 0.0008, respectively), was greater than that seen in magnocellular layer 1.


Relay neurons in the LGN, which project to the visual cortex, undergo significant shrinkage in glaucoma, and neurons in parvocellular layers undergo significantly more shrinkage than neurons in magnocellular layers.

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