PURPOSE. This work examines the effects of cardiotrophin (CT)-1 on photoreceptor survival in transgenic rats that carry the rhodopsin mutation S334ter. METHODS. Recombinant CT-1 was injected intravitreally into eyes of heterozygous animals. Photoreceptor survival was analyzed by histology. Phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcriptionl (STAT1), STAT3, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), or Akt was assessed by immunoblot analysis. Localization of phosphorylated STAT3 was determined by immunocytochemistry. RESULTS. Heterozygous S334ter rats experience rapid photoreceptor degeneration. By postnatal day (PD)20, the outer nuclear layer (ONL) retained only 1 to 2 rows of nuclei compared with 10 to 12 rows in wild-type animals. Repeated administration of CT-1 resulted in significant survival of photoreceptors. At PD20, a CT-1-treated eye (2 μg/2 μL every 3 days, starting at PD9) had six to seven rows of nuclei, and the vehicle-treated eyes had only one to two rows. At PD30, eyes treated every 3 days still had five to six rows of nuclei, in contrast to no rows to one row in vehicle-treated eyes. Eyes treated every 4 days retained three to four rows, whereas eyes treated every 5 days had two to three rows. There was a significant increase in phosphorylated STAT1 and -3 in the retina after CT-1 injection. The increase in phosphorylated STAT3 was colocalized with glutamine synthetase, a Müller cell marker, by immunocytochemistry. CONCLUSIONS. These results indicate that CT-1 promotes photoreceptor survival and that Müller cells probably mediate this effect. They also suggest that sustained delivery of the protein is essential for long-term rescue of photoreceptors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience