Reversible/preventable dysfunction in glaucoma.
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 intraocular pressure (IOP) and/or retinal metabolism, and whether RGC dysfunction can be reversed with pharmacological treatment to delay the onset or prevent progression of the disease. For both, human patients and mouse models of glaucoma, electrophysiological analysis of RGC function is combined with imaging analysis of the retina (Optical Coherence Tomography, OCT) and IOP measurements to model structure-function relationships and dependence on stress factors. The susceptibility/reversibility of RGC function is also studied in mice with specific genotypes to understand the genetic predisposition to neuronal dysfunction and death.
The figure represents a model of energy processing by RGCs when they are activated by a strong visual stimulus (Porciatti and Ventura, Vision Research 2009, 49:505-513).