Light treatment enhances photoreceptor survival in dystrophic retinas of Royal College of Surgeons rats

Izhak Nir, Changdong Liu, Rong Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To determine whether treatment with bright light elicits a protective response that enhances photoreceptor survival in Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats with inherited retinal degeneration. METHODS. RCS rats were illuminated for 10 to 12 hours with 130 foot-candles (fc) of white or green light. Untreated littermates that were kept under low cyclic light levels were used as control subjects. Photoreceptor survival was determined by quantitative analysis of photoreceptor nuclei and ultrastructural assessment of cellular organization. Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) gene expression were determined at the mRNA and protein levels. RESULTS. Treatments of RCS rats with a single dose of bright light on postnatal day 23 (P23) greatly enhanced photoreceptor survival. Ultrastructural analysis revealed intact inner segments in light- treated retinas, whereas in untreated retinas only remnants of inner segments were observed. By P42, numerous viable nuclei were counted in the posterior retina of light-treated rats, whereas most of the remaining nuclei in untreated RCS rat retinas were highly pyknotic. At 25 days after treatment with a single dose of bright light, bFGF gene expression was significantly higher than in untreated RCS rat retinas. By P42, bFGF protein levels were still significantly higher in the treated retinas. CONCLUSIONS. Exogenous bFGF has been shown to promote photoreceptor survival in the RCS rat retina. Thus, the increased bFGF expression that was measured in the light-treated RCS rat retinas may be a protective response to light stress, which supports the observed rescue of photoreceptors in light-treated RCS rat retinas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2383-2390
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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