Phagocytosis of retinal rod and cone photoreceptors

Physiology (Bethesda). 2010 Feb;25(1):8-15. doi: 10.1152/physiol.00038.2009.


Photoreceptor cells maintain a roughly constant length by continuously generating new outer segments from their base while simultaneously releasing mature outer segments engulfed by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Thus postmitotic RPE cells phagocytose an immense amount of material over a lifetime, disposing of photoreceptor cell waste while retaining useful content. This review focuses on current knowledge of outer segment phagocytosis, discussing the steps involved along with their critical participants as well as how various perturbations in outer segment (OS) disposal can lead to retinopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Phagocytes / metabolism*
  • Phagocytes / pathology
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / pathology
  • Retinal Diseases / metabolism*
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / pathology
  • Signal Transduction