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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Oct;50(10):4873-80. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-3291. Epub 2009 May 6.

Stimulus-evoked intrinsic optical signals in the retina: pharmacologic dissection reveals outer retinal origins.

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Department of Neurosurgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.



To elucidate the anatomic origins of stimulus-evoked intrinsic optical signals in the mammalian retina by using selective pharmacologic blockade of specific retinal layers.


Four adult cats were used to investigate the stimulus-evoked intrinsic signals. The retinas were visually stimulated with a liquid crystal display (LCD) integrated into a modified fundus camera. The evoked signals in the near infrared (NIR) were recorded with a digital camera to image the changes in the optical reflectance of the retinas. Variants of the electroretinogram (pattern ERG and long-pulse ERG) were also recorded as additional measures of retinal function. Specific retinal layers were inactivated via intravitreal injections of the voltage-gated sodium channel blocker, tetrodotoxin (TTX), the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR6) agonist, 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid (APB), and/or the ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonist cis-2,3 piperidinedicarboxylic acid (PDA). The stimulus-evoked intrinsic signals were imaged before and after drug injection.


ERG recordings and tests of the consensual pupillary response confirmed the effectiveness of each drug. Yet despite the pharmacologic blockade of the inner retina (TTX) and postreceptoral retinal circuitry (APB and PDA), the stimulus-evoked intrinsic signals remained essentially unaltered from preinjection conditions. Similarly, the time course of the signal did not appreciably shift in time or shape.


The findings demonstrate that stimulus-evoked intrinsic signals persist after injection of APB, PDA, and TTX, drugs that work to suppress inner and postreceptoral retinal circuitry. The persistence of the intrinsic signals after administration of these drugs indicates that the dominant intrinsic signals are likely to arise from the outer retina.

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