Cell type-specific changes in retinal ganglion cell function induced by rod death and cone reorganization in rats.
We have determined the impact of rod death and cone reorganization on the spatiotemporal receptive fields (RFs) and spontaneous activity of distinct retinal ganglion cell (RGC) types. We compared RGC function between healthy and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) model rats (S334ter-3) at a time when nearly all rods were lost but cones remained. This allowed us to determine the impact of rod death on cone-mediated visual signaling, a relevant time point because the diagnosis of RP frequently occurs when patients are nightblind but daytime vision persists. Following rod death, functionally distinct RGC types persisted; this indicates that parallel processing of visual input remained largely intact. However, some properties of cone-mediated responses were altered ubiquitously across RGC types, such as prolonged temporal integration and reduced spatial RF area. Other properties changed in a cell type-specific manner, such as temporal RF shape (dynamics), spontaneous activity, and direction selectivity. These observations identify the extent of functional remodeling in the retina following rod death but before cone loss. They also indicate new potential challenges to restoring normal vision by replacing lost rod photoreceptors.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study provides novel and therapeutically relevant insights to retinal function following rod death but before cone death. To determine changes in retinal output, we used a large-scale multielectrode array to simultaneously record from hundreds of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). These recordings of large-scale neural activity revealed that following the death of all rods, functionally distinct RGCs remain. However, the receptive field properties and spontaneous activity of these RGCs are altered in a cell type-specific manner.
Yu, W-Q; Grzywacz, NM; Lee, E-J; Field, GD
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