Elevated intraocular pressure causes inner retinal dysfunction before cell loss in a mouse model of experimental glaucoma

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Jan 28;54(1):762-70. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10581.


Purpose: We assessed the relationship among intraocular pressure (IOP), histology, and retinal function changes in a mouse model of induced, chronic, mild ocular hypertension.

Methods: IOP was elevated experimentally via anterior chamber injection of polystyrene beads and measured twice weekly with a rebound tonometer. Histology was assessed with a combination of neurobiotin (NB) retrograde labeling of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and TO-PRO3 staining. Retinal function was assessed with serial dark-adapted electroretinograms (ERGs) optimized for detection of the a-wave, b-wave, and positive and negative scotopic threshold responses (pSTR, nSTR). Comparisons between bead-injected and saline-injected (control) eyes were conducted.

Results: IOP remained elevated for at least 3 months following a single injection of polystyrene beads. Elevated IOP resulted in a mild, progressive reduction of RGCs, and a mild increase in axial length at 6 and 12 weeks after bead injection. The raw b-wave amplitude was increased shortly after IOP elevation, but the raw a-wave, pSTR, and nSTR amplitudes were unchanged. pSTR and nSTR amplitudes were normalized to the increased b-wave. With this normalization, the pSTR amplitude was decreased shortly after IOP elevation.

Conclusions: Polystyrene bead injection results in a mild, chronic elevation of IOP that recapitulates several critical aspects of human ocular hypertension and glaucoma, and results in early changes in retinal electrical function that precede histologic changes. It is possible that glaucoma associated with elevated IOP involves the early disruption of a complex combination of retinal synapses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axial Length, Eye
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Death
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Ocular Hypertension / metabolism
  • Ocular Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Retinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Retinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology*
  • Tonometry, Ocular


  • Biomarkers
  • neurobiotin
  • Biotin