This abstract was presented yesterday, April 29th at the 2018 Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii by myself, Bryan W. Jones.
The retina is a complex, heterocellular tissue with most/all retinal cell classes becoming impacted or altered in retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a process called retinal remodeling. Defining disease and the stage-specific cytoarchitectural and metabolic responses in RP and AMD is critical for highlighting targets for intervention. We now know that negative plasticity and neural retinal remodeling occurs regardless of retinal insult in models of retinal degeneration as well as in human RP and in human AMD, revealing that no retinal disease fails to trigger remodeling and reprogramming.
Evidence in the literature over the past decade has improved our understanding into mechanisms of initial retinal degeneration and informed our understanding of the subsequent remodeling events in the neural retina that occur post-photoreceptor degeneration. Remodeling associated with retinal degeneration is intimately linked with insults that cause photoreceptor stress and eventually photoreceptor cell death. These phenomena result in reprogramming of cell types in retina followed by progressive neural degeneration akin to CNS neural degenerations involving both neuronal and glial classes. No cell class in the retina is spared from the effects of remodeling. The earliest cell classes involved in remodeling are horizontal, bipolar and Müller cells and the Müller glia are the last cell class left in the remodeling retina.
Our efforts are now focused on elucidating the precise wiring changes in retina, through the creation of pathological connectomes, or “patho-connectomes” to study precisely what the circuit topologies are, compared to normal topologies derived from Retinal Connectome 1 (RC1). Also, because temporal windows are critical to understanding when interventions may be possible, we are exploring when circuit topology revisions occur to understand their impact on information flow in the retina and their impact on rescues of vision loss. Precise circuit topologies in early retinal degenerative events is our first area of exploration with ultrastructural reconstructions of outer retinal neurons, bipolar cells and horizontal cells. Müller glia are also of intense interest as we are tracking the earliest metabolic and morphological changes in glia in response to retinal degenerations.