Dynamic changes in cell size and corresponding cell fate after optic nerve injury

Benjamin M. Davis, Li Guo, Nivedita Ravindran, Ehtesham Shamsher, Veerle Baekelandt, Hannah Mitchell, Anil A. Bharath, Lies De Groef*, M. Francesca Cordeiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Identifying disease-specifc patterns of retinal cell loss in pathological conditions has been highlighted by the emergence of techniques such as Detection of Apoptotic Retinal Cells and Adaptive Optics confocal Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy which have enabled single-cell visualisation in vivo. Cell size has previously been used to stratify Retinal Ganglion Cell (RGC) populations in histological samples of optic neuropathies, and early work in this field suggested that larger RGCs are more susceptible to early loss than smaller RGCs. More recently, however, it has been proposed that RGC soma and axon size may be dynamic and change in response to injury. To address this unresolved controversy, we applied recent advances in maximising information extraction from RGC populations in retinal whole mounts to evaluate the changes in RGC size distribution over time, using three well-established rodent models of optic nerve injury. In contrast to previous studies based on sampling approaches, we examined the whole Brn3a-positive RGC population at multiple time points over the natural history of these models. The morphology of over 4 million RGCs was thus assessed to glean novel insights from this dataset. RGC subpopulations were found to both increase and decrease in size over time, supporting the notion that RGC cell size is dynamic in response to injury. However, this study presents compelling evidence that smaller RGCs are lost more rapidly than larger RGCs despite the dynamism. Finally, using a bootstrap approach, the data strongly suggests that disease-associated changes in RGC spatial distribution and morphology could have potential as novel diagnostic indicators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number21683
Number of pages14
JournalSci. Rep.
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020


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