Retinal channelrhodopsin-2-mediated activity in vivo evaluated with manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging

Mol Vis. 2010 Jun 9:16:1059-67.


Purpose: Ectopic expression of light-sensitive proteins, such as channelrhodopsin-2, represent a novel approach for restoring light-detection capabilities to degenerated retina. A noninvasive method that can detect light-mediated activities of such light-sensitive proteins in the retina in vivo would be important for correlating expression patterns and retinal function. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that retinal uptake of manganese, measured noninvasively with manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI), is a biomarker of channelrhodopsin-2-mediated activity in vivo.

Methods: The eyes of 3-month-old rd1/rd1 mice were either untreated ("uninjected," negative control) or injected intravitreally with either saline ("saline," negative control) or adeno-associated virus carrying a fusion construct of channelopsin-2 (Chop2) and green fluorescent protein (GFP; "Chop2-GFP"). MEMRI examination was performed 2 months later on either dark or continuous bright blue light-exposed mice to assess the distribution and extent of manganese uptake in the retina and optic nerve. In separate experiments, MEMRI was used to map laminar accumulation of manganese vertically through the retina. For comparison, Chop2-GFP expression was evaluated in whole mounts and vertical sections of virus-infected retinas and optic nerve.

Results: In the two control groups (regardless of lighting exposure) and between the control groups and the dark-exposed virus-treated eyes, retinal and optic nerve uptake of manganese did not differ. In light-exposed virus-treated eyes, manganese uptake in the retina and optic nerve was significantly greater relative to the other groups. In a retinal cross-section, manganese accumulation in light-exposed virus-treated eyes was spatially matched with Chop2-GFP expression in the optic nerve and all remaining retinal layers except the inner nuclear layer.

Conclusions: First-time evidence is presented indicating the usefulness of measuring intraretinal manganese accumulation as a noninvasive biomarker of channelrhodopsin-2-mediated activity in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Channelrhodopsins
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retinal Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Channelrhodopsins
  • Manganese