Survival and axonal regeneration of retinal ganglion cells in adult cats

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2002 Nov;21(6):529-53. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(02)00037-x.


Axotomized retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in adult cats offer a good experimental model to understand mechanisms of RGC deteriorations in ophthalmic diseases such as glaucoma and optic neuritis. Alpha ganglion cells in the cat retina have higher ability to survive axotomy and regenerate their axons than beta and non-alpha or beta (NAB) ganglion cells. By contrast, beta cells suffer from rapid cell death by apoptosis between 3 and 7 days after axotomy. We introduced several methods to rescue the axotomized cat RGCs from apoptosis and regenerate their axons; transplantation of the peripheral nerve (PN), intraocular injections of neurotrophic factors, or an antiapoptotic drug. Apoptosis of beta cells can be prevented with intravitreal injections of BDNF+CNTF+forskolin or a caspase inhibitor. The injection of BDNF+CNTF+forskolin also increases the numbers of regenerated beta and NAB cells, but only slightly enhances axonal regeneration of alpha cells. Electrical stimulation to the cut end of optic nerve is effective for the survival of axotomized RGCs in cats as well as in rats. To recover function of impaired vision in cats, further studies should be directed to achieve the following goals: (1). substantial number of regenerating RGCs, (2). reconstruction of the retino-geniculo-cortical pathway, and (3). reconstruction of retinotopy in the target visual centers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*