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Front Cell Neurosci. 2016 Feb 17;10:38. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2016.00038. eCollection 2016.

Retinal Remodeling: Concerns, Emerging Remedies and Future Prospects.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University Medical Center Göttingen Göttingen, Germany.
Developmental Neurobiology Laboratory, European Neuroscience Institute Göttingen Göttingen, Germany.
National Brain Research Centre Manesar, Haryana, India.
Institute of Neuro- and Sensory Physiology, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany.


Deafferentation results not only in sensory loss, but also in a variety of alterations in the postsynaptic circuitry. These alterations may have detrimental impact on potential treatment strategies. Progressive loss of photoreceptors in retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, leads to several changes in the remnant retinal circuitry. Müller glial cells undergo hypertrophy and form a glial seal. The second- and third-order retinal neurons undergo morphological, biochemical and physiological alterations. A result of these alterations is that retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the output neurons of the retina, become hyperactive and exhibit spontaneous, oscillatory bursts of spikes. This aberrant electrical activity degrades the signal-to-noise ratio in RGC responses, and thus the quality of information they transmit to the brain. These changes in the remnant retina, collectively termed "retinal remodeling", pose challenges for genetic, cellular and bionic approaches to restore vision. It is therefore crucial to understand the nature of retinal remodeling, how it affects the ability of remnant retina to respond to novel therapeutic strategies, and how to ameliorate its effects. In this article, we discuss these topics, and suggest that the pathological state of the retinal output following photoreceptor loss is reversible, and therefore, amenable to restorative strategies.


optogenetics; oscillatory activity; retinal degeneration; retinal prostheses; stem cells

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