Morphological damage in rabbit retina caused by subretinal injection of indocyanine green

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2004 Feb;242(2):158-164. doi: 10.1007/s00417-003-0798-2. Epub 2004 Jan 14.


Purpose: To investigate the effects of subretinal indocyanine green (ICG) on retinal morphology in rabbit eyes.

Methods: Retinal bleb detachments were produced by injections of ICG at dosages of 25 mg/ml, 5 mg/ml, and 0.5 mg/ml or with an injection of balanced salt solution (BSS) into the subretinal space of albino rabbit eyes. Morphological change was assessed by light and transmission electron microscopy from the viewpoint of dose and time. Some sections were also probed with the TUNEL technique to detect apoptotic cells.

Results: At 14 days after subretinal injection of BSS and 0.5 mg/ml ICG, the structure of the retina was well preserved. However, injections of 5 mg/ml or 25 mg/ml caused thinning of the retina, especially loss of the outer retinal layer. In eyes injected with 5 mg/ml ICG, the photoreceptors began disappearing within 3 days after the injection and over time showed the development of retinal atrophy. TUNEL-positive cells appeared abundantly in the photoreceptor layers 1 and 3 days after the injection of 5 mg/ml ICG. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed apoptosis in the photoreceptors.

Conclusion: These data indicate that subretinal ICG induces apparent morphological damage of the retina in a dose-dependent manner.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Atrophy
  • Coloring Agents / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Indocyanine Green / toxicity*
  • Injections
  • Rabbits
  • Retina / drug effects*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology


  • Coloring Agents
  • Indocyanine Green