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Neurotherapeutics. 2016 Apr;13(2):341-7. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0419-x.

Leveraging Optogenetic-Based Neurovascular Circuit Characterization for Repair.

Author information

1
Department of Ophthalmology, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains, NY, 10605, USA.
2
Department of Ophthalmology, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains, NY, 10605, USA. bos2005@med.cornell.edu.

Abstract

Optogenetic techniques are a powerful tool for determining the role of individual functional components within complex neural circuits. By genetically targeting specific cell types, neural mechanisms can be actively manipulated to gain a better understanding of their origin and function, both in health and disease. The potential of optogenetics is not limited to answering biological questions, as it is also a promising therapeutic approach for neurological diseases. An important prerequisite for this approach is to have an identified target with a uniquely defined role within a given neural circuit. Here, we examine the retinal neurovascular unit, a circuit that incorporates neurons and vascular cells to control blood flow in the retina. We highlight the role of a specific cell type, the cholinergic amacrine cell, in modulating vascular cells, and demonstrate how this can be targeted and controlled with optogenetics. A better understanding of these mechanisms will not only extend our understanding of neurovascular interactions in the brain, but ultimately may also provide new targets to treat vision loss in a variety of retinal diseases.

KEYWORDS:

Acetylcholine; Amacrine cell; Neurovascular unit; Optogenetics; Pericyte

PMID:
26758692
PMCID:
PMC4824015
DOI:
10.1007/s13311-015-0419-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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