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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Mar 14;52(3):1384-91. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-6509. Print 2011 Mar.

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha mediates photoreceptor death in a rodent model of retinal detachment.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.



Photoreceptor degeneration is a major cause of visual loss in various retinal diseases, including retinal detachment (RD) and neovascular AMD, but the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, the role of TNFα in RD-induced photoreceptor degeneration was investigated.


RD was induced by subretinal injection of hyaluronic acid. Photoreceptor degeneration was assessed by counting the number of apoptotic cells with TdT-dUTP terminal nick-end labeling (TUNEL) 3 days after RD and measurement of the outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness 7 days after RD. As the target of anti-inflammatory treatment, the expression of TNFα, with or without dexamethasone (DEX) was examined in rats by real-time PCR. To understand the role of TNFα in photoreceptor degeneration, RD was induced in mice deficient in TNFα or its receptors (TNFR1, TNFR2, and TNFR1 and -2), or in wild-type (WT) mice by using a functionally blocking antibody to TNFα. CD11b(+) cells in the outer plexiform layer (OPL) and subretinal space were counted by immunohistochemistry (IHC).


Treatment with DEX (P = 0.001) significantly suppressed RD-induced photoreceptor degeneration and the expression of TNFα. RD-induced photoreceptor degeneration was significantly suppressed with specific blockade of TNFα (P = 0.032), in mice deficient for TNFα (P < 0.001), TNFR2 (P = 0.001), or TNFR1 and -2 (P < 0.001). However, lack of TNFR1 did not protect against RD-induced photoreceptor degeneration (P = 0.060). Müller cell activation was unchanged in WT and TNFα(-/-) mice. Recruitment of CD11b(+) monocytes was significantly lower in the TNFα(-/-) mice compared to WT mice (P = 0.002).


TNFα plays a critical role in RD-induced photoreceptor degeneration. This pathway may become an important target in the prevention of RD-induced photoreceptor degeneration.

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