Purpose: To test the hypothesis that rod energy biomarkers in light and dark are similar in mice without functional rod transducin (Gnat1rd17).
Methods: Gnat1rd17 and wildtype (WT) mice were studied in canonically low energy demand (light) and high energy demand (dark) conditions. We measured rod inner segment ellipsoid zone (ISez) profile shape, external limiting membrane-retinal pigment epithelium (ELM-RPE) thickness, and magnitude of a hyporeflective band (HB) intensity dip located between photoreceptor tips and apical RPE; antioxidants were given in a subset of mice. Oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and visual performance indexes were also measured.
Results: The lower energy demand expected in light-adapted wildtype retinas was associated with an elongated ISez, thicker ELM-RPE, and higher HB magnitude, and lower OCR compared to high energy demand conditions in the dark. Gnat1rd17 mice showed a wildtype-like ISez profile shape at 20 minutes of light that became rounder at 60 minutes; at both times, ELM-RPE was smaller than wildtype values, and the HB magnitude was unmeasurable. OCR was higher than in the dark. Light-adapted Gnat1rd17 mice biomarkers were unaffected by anti-oxidants. Gnat1rd17 mice showed modest outer nuclear layer thinning and no reduction in visual performance indexes.
Conclusions: Light-stimulated changes in all biomarkers in WT mice are consistent with the established light-induced decrease in net energy demand. In contrast, biomarker changes in Gnat1rd17 mice raise the possibility that light increases net energy demand in the absence of rod phototransduction.