Rod-cone interactions: developmental and clinical significance

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2001 Jul;20(4):451-67. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(01)00006-4.


During the last decade, numerous research reports have considerably improved our knowledge about the physiopathology of retinal degenerations. Three non-mutually exclusive general areas dealing with therapeutic approaches have been proposed; gene therapy, pharmacology and retinal transplantations. The first approach involving correction of the initial mutation, will need a great deal of time and further development before becoming a therapeutic tool in human clinical practice. The observation that cone photoreceptors, even those seemingly unaffected by any described anomaly, die secondarily to rod disappearance related to mutations expressed specifically in the latter, led us to study the interactions between these two photoreceptor populations to search for possible causal links between rod degeneration and cone death. These in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that paracrine interactions between both cell types exist and that rods are necessary for continued cone survival. Since the role of cones in visual perception is essential, pending the identification of the factors mediating these interactions underway, rod replacement by transplantation and/or neuroprotection by trophic factors or alternative pharmacological means appear as promising approaches for limiting secondary cone loss in currently untreatable blinding conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / growth & development
  • Retinal Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Retinal Degeneration / surgery
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / growth & development
  • Signal Transduction / physiology