Monday, November 9, 201512:00– 1:30 pm, in 489 Minor Hall

Who’s lost first? Subtype-specific retinal ganglion cell degeneration in glaucoma

presented by

Yvonne Ou, MD
Ophthalmologist, UCSF Medical Center

Glaucoma is a group of slowly progressive neurodegenerative optic neuropathies in which the final common pathway is death of the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that comprise the optic nerve. While many risk factors have been identified, including intraocular pressure, the mechanistic pathway between the initial insult and RGC loss is still not clearly delineated. One paradigm is that of compartmentalized neurodegeneration, in which the axons, dendrites, and synapses undergo independent degenerative programs prior to cell soma loss. This talk will focus on features of synaptic and dendritic remodeling in glaucoma and the implications on RGC function. Mounting evidence from various animal models of glaucoma demonstrates that early dendritic alterations and synaptic rearrangements influence the normal structure and function of RGCs, thus giving important insight into the mechanisms of circuit disassembly. Furthermore, it appears that the timing and degree of these structural and functional alterations may be RGC subtype specific. Data suggest that neurons stratifying in the OFF sublamina undergo the earliest reduction in spontaneous activity and receptive field size, as well as the greatest loss of excitatory synapses and dendritic shrinkage. Imaging of early dendritic alterations and identification of specific features of visual function that are first impaired represent promising new approaches to earlier diagnosis of this disease and improved disease progression recognition in humans.

Host: Lu Chen

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