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Doc Ophthalmol. 2009 Feb;118(1):3-28. doi: 10.1007/s10633-008-9153-6. Epub 2008 Nov 9.

Testing retinal toxicity of drugs in animal models using electrophysiological and morphological techniques.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rappaport Institute, P.O. Box 9649, Haifa, 31096, Israel.


Drugs are frequently tested for retinal toxicity in animal models in order to address applied and basic research questions. When a retinal toxicity study is designed, the researcher needs to consider several factors depending on his/her research questions. Among the factors that need to be addressed before a toxicity study is conducted are: the animal species to be used, choice of experimental (functional and/or morphological) techniques, procedure of testing, period of follow-up, and modes of data analysis. This review is a summary of 20 years' experience of studying retinal toxicity of different drugs in rabbits and rats. The use of the electroretinogram and the visual evoked potential for assessment of outer and inner retinal function, respectively, is described as well as the use of morphological techniques (histology, histochemistry, and immunocytochemistry). The advantages and limitations of functional and morphological techniques are discussed with specific examples from my experience. Recommendations for future drug toxicity studies are summarized.

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