Interactions between the retinal pigment epithelium and the neural retina

Doc Ophthalmol. 1985 Oct 15;60(4):327-46. doi: 10.1007/BF00158922.


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) interacts with the photoreceptors, which it faces across the subretinal space. In these interactions the RPE acts as three types of cell - epithelium, macrophage, and glia. This review briefly describes selected interactions between the RPE and photoreceptors in ion and water transport, Vitamin A transport, phagocytosis of shed portions of outer segments, ensheathment of photoreceptors outer segments, and electrical responses. The electrical interactions can be recorded at the cornea in the c-wave, fast oscillation, and light peak of the DC electroretinogram (DC-ERG) and electrooculogram (EOG). Each response reflects photoreceptor-RPE interactions in a distinct way. The three responses taken together provide perhaps the best opportunity to learn how pathophysiological conditions alter the interactions between the RPE and photoreceptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Electrooculography
  • Electroretinography
  • Ions
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / physiology*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure
  • Potassium / physiology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / physiology
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / ultrastructure
  • Vitamin A / metabolism


  • Ions
  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium