Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), neurturin (NTN) and their receptors (GFRalpha1, GFRalpha2 and Ret) play an important role in the survival of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous system. For example, GDNF as well as other trophic factors promotes photoreceptor survival during retinal degeneration. Recent studies have proposed that part of neurotophic rescue of photoreceptors may be indirect, mediated by interaction of the neurotrophic factors with other cell types, that in turn release secondary factors that act directly on photoreceptors. In the present study, we examined the GDNF receptor expression in control and light-damaged retina, and found that GFRalpha2 protein is upregulated in retina-specific Müller glial cells during photoreceptor degeneration. We also examined the effect of GDNF or NTN on cultured Müller cells. Exogenous GDNF increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor, basic fibroblast growth factor and GDNF, but not NTN mRNA production. On the other hand, NTN increased NTN, but not GDNF mRNA production in cultured Müller cells. These observations suggest that GDNF, NTN and their receptors are involved in the regulation of trophic factor production in retinal glial cells, and that functional glia-neuron network may utilize GDNF family for the protection of neural cells during retinal degeneration.