Purpose: To evaluate the retinal degeneration of the motor neuron degeneration (mnd) mouse, and to confirm its inheritance pattern and gene location.
Methods: In screening the mnd/mnd mouse for ocular disease, a retinal degeneration was found that was evaluated by serial electroretinography, histology, electron microscopy, indirect ophthalmoscopy, and genetic and linkage analysis.
Results: In homozygous mnd mice, photoreceptor and outer nuclear layers show cell loss by 5 weeks after birth. By 2 months, the peripheral retina is preferentially thinner than central retina, and by 6 months the entire retina is reduced in thickness. The electroretinogram was extinguished by 6 months. Transmission electron microscopy at 3 and 6 months showed distinct cytoplasmic inclusions characteristic of the curvilinear profiles seen in human ceroid lipofuscinosis. Genetic analyses show that the retinal degeneration in mnd mice is inherited as a single autosomal gene with recessive expression, and a three-point cross placed the retinal degeneration at the mnd locus on the proximal end of mouse chromosome 8. Crosses with other known strains with retinal degeneration were normal. CONCLUSIONS. The mnd mouse model is similar to the juvenile onset Spielmeyer-Vogt form of ceroid lipofuscinosis (Batten disease), and provides a good model for the retinal degeneration found in these patients.