Ex vivo ERG analysis of photoreceptors using an in vivo ERG system

Vision Res. 2014 Aug;101:108-17. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 21.


The Function of the retina and effects of drugs on it can be assessed by recording transretinal voltage across isolated retina that is perfused with physiological medium. However, building ex vivo ERG apparatus requires substantial amount of time, resources and expertise. Here we adapted a commercial in vivo ERG system for transretinal ERG recordings from rod and cone photoreceptors and compared rod and cone signaling between ex vivo and in vivo environments. We found that the rod and cone a- and b-waves recorded with the transretinal ERG adapter and a standard in vivo ERG system are comparable to those obtained from live anesthetized animals. However, ex vivo responses are somewhat slower and their oscillatory potentials are suppressed as compared to those recorded in vivo. We found that rod amplification constant (A) was comparable between ex vivo and in vivo conditions, ∼10-30s(-2) depending on the choice of response normalization. We estimate that the A in cones is between 3 and 6s(-2) in ex vivo conditions and by assuming equal A in vivo we arrive to light funnelling factor of 3 for cones in the mouse retina. The ex vivo ERG adapter provides a simple and affordable alternative to designing a custom-built transretinal recordings setup for the study of photoreceptors. Our results provide a roadmap to the rigorous quantitative analysis of rod and cone responses made possible with such a system.

Keywords: Electroretinogram; Photoreceptor; Transretinal ERG; a-Wave; b-Wave.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dark Adaptation / physiology
  • Electroretinography / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*