Loss of Synaptic Connectivity, Particularly in Second Order Neurons Is a Key Feature of Diabetic Retinal Neuropathy in the Ins2Akita Mouse

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Abstract

Retinal neurodegeneration is a key component of diabetic retinopathy (DR), although the detailed neuronal damage remains ill-defined. Recent evidence suggests that in addition to amacrine and ganglion cell, diabetes may also impact on other retinal neurons. In this study, we examined retinal degenerative changes in Ins2Akita diabetic mice. In scotopic electroretinograms (ERG), b-wave and oscillatory potentials were severely impaired in 9-month old Ins2Akita mice. Despite no obvious pathology in fundoscopic examination, optical coherence tomography (OCT) revealed a progressive thinning of the retina from 3 months onwards. Cone but not rod photoreceptor loss was observed in 3-month-old diabetic mice. Severe impairment of synaptic connectivity at the outer plexiform layer (OPL) was detected in 9-month old Ins2Akita mice. Specifically, photoreceptor presynaptic ribbons were reduced by 25% and postsynaptic boutons by 70%, although the density of horizontal, rod- and cone-bipolar cells remained similar to non-diabetic controls. Significant reductions in GABAergic and glycinergic amacrine cells and Brn3a+ retinal ganglion cells were also observed in 9-month old Ins2Akita mice. In conclusion, the Ins2Akita mouse develops cone photoreceptor degeneration and the impairment of synaptic connectivity at the OPL, predominately resulting from the loss of postsynaptic terminal boutons. Our findings suggest that the Ins2Akita mouse is a good model to study diabetic retinal neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere97970
Number of pages11
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2014

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