Purpose: Marked attenuation of the single-flash electroretinographic (ERG) b-wave in the presence of a normal-amplitude or less-attenuated a-wave is commonly referred to as the "negative ERG." The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the disparate origins of the negative ERG in three murine models can be discriminated using flickering stimuli.
Methods: Three models were selected: (1) the Nyx (nob) mouse model of complete congenital stationary night blindness, (2) the oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) rat model of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and (3) the Rs1 knockout (KO) mouse model of X-linked juvenile retinoschisis. Directly after a dark-adapted, single-flash ERG luminance series, a flicker ERG frequency series (0.5-30 Hz) was performed at a fixed luminance of 0.5 log cd s/m(2). This series includes frequency ranges that are dominated by activity in (A) the rod pathways (below 5 Hz), (B) the cone ON-pathway (5-15 Hz), and (C) the cone OFF-pathway (above 15 Hz).
Results: All three models produced markedly attenuated single-flash ERG b-waves. In the Nyx (nob) mouse, which features postsynaptic deficits in the ON-pathways, the a-wave was normal and flicker responses were attenuated in ranges A and B, but not C. The ROP rat is characterized by inner-retinal ischemia which putatively affects both ON- and OFF-bipolar cell activity; flicker responses were reduced in all ranges (A-C). Notably, the choroid supplies the photoreceptors and is thought to be relatively intact in OIR, an idea supported by the nearly normal a-wave. Finally, in the Rs1 KO mouse, which has documented abnormality of the photoreceptor-bipolar synapse affecting both ON- and OFF-pathways, the flicker responses were attenuated in all ranges (A-C). The a-wave was also attenuated, likely as a consequence to schisms in the photoreceptor layer.
Conclusion: Consideration of both single-flash and flickering ERG responses can discriminate the functional pathology of the negative ERG in these animal models of human disease.
Keywords: Complete congenital stationary night blindness (cCSNB); Flicker; Murine model; Negative electroretinogram; Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP); X-linked juvenile retinoschisis (XLRS).