Background: Dysfunctions in brain dopamine and serotonin neurotransmission are believed to be involved in the etiology of psychiatric disorders, and electroretinogram (ERG) anomalies have been reported in psychiatric patients. The goal of this study was to evaluate whether ERG anomalies could result from central dopamine or serotonin dysfunctions or from changes in the retinal bioavailability of these neurotransmitters.
Method: Photopic and scotopic ERGs were recorded in R439H tryptophan hydroxylase 2 knockin (Tph2-KI) mice that have an approximately 80% decrease in brain serotonin and dopamine transporter knockout (DAT-KO) mice showing a fivefold increase in brain extracellular dopamine. Dopamine and serotonin retinal and striatal tissue content were also measured. The role of dopamine D1 receptors (D1R) and D2 receptors (D2R) in the ERG responses was evaluated in D1R-KO and D2R-KO mice.
Results: An increase in photopic b-wave implicit time was observed in Tph2-KI mice (wildtype = 24.25 msec, KI = 25.22 msec; p = .011). The DAT-KO mice showed a decrease in rod sensitivity (wildtype =-1.97 log units, KO =-1.81 log units; p = .014). In contrast to remarkable alterations in brain levels, no changes in dopamine and serotonin retinal content were found in DAT-KO and Tph2-KI mice, respectively. The D1R-KO mice showed anomalies in photopic and scotopic maximal amplitude, whereas D2R-KO mice showed higher oscillatory potentials relative contribution to the b-wave amplitude.
Conclusion: Alterations in central dopamine and serotonin neurotransmission can affect the ERG responses. The ERG anomalies reported in psychiatric disorders might serve as biomarkers of central monoaminergic dysfunction, thus promoting ERG measurements as a useful tool in psychiatric research.
Keywords: Biomarker; dopamine; dopamine transporter; electroretinogram; psychiatric disorders; serotonin.
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