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Exp Eye Res. 2005 Oct;81(4):478-91. Epub 2005 Jun 1.

Anatomical and functional evidence for progressive age-related decline in parasympathetic control of choroidal blood flow in pigeons.

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Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, University of Tennessee, 855 Monroe, Memphis TN 38163, USA.


The choroid receives extensive parasympathetic innervation, which in birds arises largely from the ciliary ganglion (CG). Since age-related changes in parasympathetic regulation of choroidal blood flow (ChBF) could contribute to age-related retinal decline, we used anatomical and functional methods to determine if ChBF control by the CG shows age-related decline in pigeons. The efficacy of the choroidal vasodilatory response to activation of the CG preganglionic input from the medial subdivision of the nucleus of Edinger-Westphal (EWM) was assessed using laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF). The EWM receives bisynaptic retinal input, and electrical stimulation of EWM or light stimulation of the retina in young animals produces dramatic choroidal vasodilation. Transcleral LDF was therefore used to measure both basal ChBF and the increases in ChBF elicited by electrical stimulation of EWM or by retinal illumination in 0.5-18 year old pigeons. Fixed cryostat sections of the eye from 0.5 to 22 year old pigeons were immunolabeled for the 3A10 neurofilament-associated antigen to determine if intrachoroidal nerve fibers arising from CG exhibited age-related loss. We focused on superior choroid, since it is the primary target for CG nerve fibers. There was a marked age-related loss in the ChBF vasodilatory response elicited by either EWM stimulation or retinal illumination, as was also true for basal ChBF. A progressive decrease in choroidal nerve fibers of CG origin, to 17% of youthful abundance by 22 years of age, was also observed. The evoked ChBF increase, and basal ChBF, achieved 50% of their age-related decline between the ages of 3 and 4 years, while half the loss in CG innervation of choroid was later, occurring by 10 years. Age-related loss of choroidal nerve fibers occurs in parallel with but more slowly than the reduction in basal ChBF and the choroidal vasodilation that can be elicited via natural (light) or electrical activation of the central neural input to CG choroidal neurons. The prominent age-related decline in parasympathetic control of ChBF early in the pigeon life span could contribute to the age-related retinal decline observed in pigeons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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