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J Neurosci. 2013 Apr 17;33(16):6800-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1044-12.2013.

Restoration of retinal structure and function after selective photocoagulation.

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Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.


CNS neurons change their connectivity to accommodate a changing environment, form memories, or respond to injury. Plasticity in the adult mammalian retina after injury or disease was thought to be limited to restructuring resulting in abnormal retinal anatomy and function. Here we report that neurons in the mammalian retina change their connectivity and restore normal retinal anatomy and function after injury. Patches of photoreceptors in the rabbit retina were destroyed by selective laser photocoagulation, leaving retinal inner neurons (bipolar, amacrine, horizontal, ganglion cells) intact. Photoreceptors located outside of the damaged zone migrated to make new functional connections with deafferented bipolar cells located inside the lesion. The new connections restored ON and OFF responses in deafferented ganglion cells. This finding extends the previously perceived limits of restorative plasticity in the adult retina and allows for new approaches to retinal laser therapy free of current detrimental side effects such as scotomata and scarring.

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