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Brain Res. 1994 Jun 6;647(2):181-91.

The influences of age, retinal topography, and gender on retinal degeneration in the Fischer 344 rat.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester School of Medicine, NY 14642.


The Fischer 344 (F344) rat is presently the animal of choice for age-related research. The existence of an age-related retinal degeneration was reported previously in the males of this strain, but a gender comparison has not been performed. In this study, histological and morphometric measurements of the retina related to age, retinal topography, and gender were made on 3- to 24-month-old animals. The thicknesses of the outer nuclear layer (ONL) and the photoreceptor layer (PRL) were measured from sagittal sections at six loci. Retinas of both sexes showed steady decline with age in the thicknesses of the ONL and PRL at all locations. An important finding was the presence, after 12 months of age, of a drastically accelerated rate of peripheral retinal degeneration seen only in male subjects. Females showed a less dramatic rate of peripheral degeneration which did not begin until after 18 months of age. In addition, two other forms of retinal degeneration were found--cystoid degeneration was found earlier and more frequently in the male, while a paving-stone type of degeneration was found in both sexes. These two types of lesions were preferentially, but not exclusively found in the peripheral retina. In conclusion, the F344 rat offers a convenient model to study a pattern of retinal degeneration affected by the combination of gender, regional and age-related factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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