A pathoconnectome of early neurodegeneration: Network changes in retinal degeneration

Exp Eye Res. 2020 Oct:199:108196. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2020.108196. Epub 2020 Aug 15.


Connectomics has demonstrated that synaptic networks and their topologies are precise and directly correlate with physiology and behavior. The next extension of connectomics is pathoconnectomics: to map neural network synaptology and circuit topologies corrupted by neurological disease in order to identify robust targets for therapeutics. In this report, we characterize a pathoconnectome of early retinal degeneration. This pathoconnectome was generated using serial section transmission electron microscopy to achieve an ultrastructural connectome with 2.18nm/px resolution for accurate identification of all chemical and gap junctional synapses. We observe aberrant connectivity in the rod-network pathway and novel synaptic connections deriving from neurite sprouting. These observations reveal principles of neuron responses to the loss of network components and can be extended to other neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Abnormal ribbon morphology; Connectomics; GABAergic amacrine cells; Neurodegeneration; Pathoconnectomics; Retinal degeneration; Retinitis pigmentosa; Rod pathway.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amacrine Cells / metabolism
  • Amacrine Cells / pathology
  • Animals
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gap Junctions
  • Rabbits
  • Retinal Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / pathology*
  • Synapses / metabolism