The electrical activity of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) can be recorded non-invasively by means of the pattern electroretinogram (PERG). We have optimized PERG methods for both human subjects and experimental mouse models. The PERG is used as a tool to detect the earliest dysfunction of RGCs in glaucoma and monitor its progression. The PERG is also used to understand whether RGC function is susceptible to artificial elevation of eye pressure and/or retinal metabolism, and whether RGC dysfunction can be improved with pharmacological treatment to prevent the onset or progression of the disease. For both human patients and mouse model of glaucoma, electrophysiological analysis of RGC function is combined with imaging analysis of the retina (Optical Coherence Tomography, OCT) and intraocular pressure (IOP) measurements to model structure-function relationships and dependence on stress factors. Dr. Lori Ventura MD has a key role in the selection and clinical management of a large population of patients suspected of having glaucoma or with glaucoma in the early stages, including a substantial proportion of African-American and Latinos. The susceptibility/reversibility of RGC function is also studied in mouse with specific genotype to understand the genetic predisposition to neuronal dysfunction and death in glaucoma.
Vittorio Porciatti, D.Sc.
Prevention of Glaucoma
Vision Science Focus
Visual Neurophysiology, Glaucoma
Research Professor of Ophthalmology Director and Vice Chairman of Research Faculty, Neuroscience Program
The Porciatti laboratory investigates the ability of retinal neurons to recover functionally in disease or after stress using non-invasive electrophysiologic and imaging techniques in human and mouse models. The central idea is that neural dysfunction precedes death and can be reversed. The focus is on glaucomatous optic neuropathy, and the goal is to develop strategies to prevent and/or restore loss of neural function. The approaches are non-invasive and translational between patients and mouse models.