Studies of experimentally induced retinal degeneration: 2. Early morphological changes produced by lipid peroxides in the albino rabbit

Jpn J Ophthalmol. 1990;34(2):158-73.


When pure, synthetic lipid hydroperoxides (LHP) were injected into the vitreous body of albino rabbits, electrical activity was decreased in all components of the electroretinogram (ERG) in a progressive and time-related manner. In the early phase morphological changes occurred at the interface between the photoreceptor outer segments and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in response to LHP. These findings commenced within a few hours after injection and continued during the following 2-3 weeks, when the ERG was completely extinguished. Two days after injection, the rod outer segments (ROS) were swollen and damage of the RPE apical villi was observed. This initial event was followed by additional changes in the RPE which embraced swelling, accumulation of residual bodies, complete loss of ROS and enlargement and disruption of Bruch's membrane. The precursors of residual bodies appeared to result from focal, peroxidative damage to ROS discs which apparently rendered these materials undegradable by the RPE. As ROS degeneration continued, the RPE showed hypertrophy and modification. These studies provided evidence for a sequential destruction of the neural retina and RPE during oxidative damage involving lipid peroxidation. The mechanism appeared to differ from that produced by other toxic compounds or those which resulted from vitamin E or A deficiency. This new model system is thought to be useful in 1) explaining differences in susceptibility of inner ROS disks versus other membranes, 2) determining how the RPE metabolizes abnormal ROS, 3) studying RPE reactivity following trauma and/or retinal detachment, and 4) determining factors which produce degeneration of Bruch's membrane.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroretinography / drug effects
  • Linoleic Acids / toxicity*
  • Lipid Peroxides / toxicity*
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / drug effects
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure
  • Rabbits
  • Retinal Degeneration / chemically induced*
  • Retinal Degeneration / pathology
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / drug effects
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / ultrastructure
  • Time Factors
  • Vitreous Body / drug effects


  • Linoleic Acids
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • linoleic acid hydroperoxide