Axotomized mouse retinal ganglion cells containing melanopsin show enhanced survival, but not enhanced axon regrowth into a peripheral nerve graft

Vision Res. 2004 Oct;44(23):2667-74. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2004.06.010.


Melanopsin is found in only approximately 2% of mouse retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), making these RGCs uniquely and directly photosensitive. Given that the majority of RGCs die after axotomy and that grafting of a peripheral nerve to the eye provides a permissive environment for axon regrowth, the present study examined the survival and axonal regrowth of melanopsin-containing RGCs in mice. One month after optic nerve transection and grafting, RGCs with regrown axons were labeled from the grafts and retinae were processed to visualize melanopsin and TUJ1. Melanopsin-positive and negative RGCs were counted and compared to axotomized RGCs from ungrafted eyes and uninjured RGCs. Melanopsin-positive RGCs showed a 3-fold increase in survival rate compared to non-melanopsin RGCs. Despite this enhanced survival, melanopsin-containing RGCs did not show increased axon regrowth into nerve grafts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Female
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / transplantation*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / chemistry
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Rod Opsins / analysis*


  • Rod Opsins
  • melanopsin