Increasing the number and intensity of shock tube generated blast waves leads to earlier retinal ganglion cell dysfunction and regional cell death

Exp Eye Res. 2024 Feb:239:109754. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2023.109754. Epub 2023 Dec 17.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a blast exposure generated from a shock tube on retinal ganglion cell (RGC) function and structure. Mice were exposed to one of three blast conditions using a shock tube; a single blast wave of 20 PSI, a single blast wave of 30 PSI, or three blast waves of 30 PSI given on three consecutive days with a one-day inter-blast interval. The structure and function of the retina were analyzed using the pattern electroretinogram (PERG), the optomotor reflex (OMR), and optical coherence tomography (OCT). The in vivo parameters were examined at baseline, and then again 1-week, 4-weeks, and 16-weeks following blast exposure. The number of surviving RGCs was quantified at the end of the study. Analysis of mice receiving a 20 PSI injury showed decreased PERG and OMR responses 16-weeks post blast, without evidence of changed retinal thickness or RGC death. Mice subjected to a 30 PSI injury showed decreased PERG responses 4 weeks and 16 weeks after injury, without changes in the retinal thickness or RGC density. Mice subjected to 30 PSI X 3 blast exposures had PERG deficits 1-week and 4-weeks post exposure. There was also significant change in retinal thickness 1-week and 16-weeks post blast exposure. Mice receiving 30 PSI X 3 blast injuries had regional loss of RGCs in the central retina, but not in the mid-peripheral or peripheral retina. Overall, this study has shown that increasing the number of blast exposures and the intensity leads to earlier functional loss of RGCs. We have also shown regional RGC loss only when using the highest blast intensity and number of blast injuries.

Keywords: Blast injury; Neurotrauma; Retinal ganglion cells; Shock tube.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blast Injuries* / metabolism
  • Cell Death
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroretinography
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Retina
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells* / metabolism