Retinal signal transmission in Duchenne muscular dystrophy: evidence for dysfunction in the photoreceptor/depolarizing bipolar cell pathway

J Clin Invest. 1994 Jun;93(6):2425-30. doi: 10.1172/JCI117250.


There have been reports of abnormal retinal neurotransmission determined by electroretinography in boys with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. Dystrophin may play a role in transmitting signals between photoreceptors and the excitatory synapse of the ON-bipolar cell. These electroretinographic changes appeared to be limited to the rod ON-pathway but we felt there was also similar abnormality in the cone ON-pathway. We used long-duration stimuli to separate ON-(depolarizing bipolar cell) and OFF (hyperpolarizing bipolar cell) contributions to the cone-dominated ERG to better understand how the retina functions in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. We recorded the electroretinograms of 11 boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and found abnormal signal transmission at the level of the photoreceptor and ON-bipolar cell in both the rod and cone generated responses. The OFF-bipolar cell that responds to the offset of the stimulus continues to function normally. The results support our hypothesis that retinal dystrophin plays a role in receptor function or controlling ion channels at the level of the photoreceptor and depolarizing bipolar cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cell Polarity
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dystrophin / physiology
  • Electroretinography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophies / physiopathology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retina / physiopathology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Dystrophin