Purpose: Raised arterial carbon dioxide levels have been suggested as a risk factor for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). We investigated the effect of raised inspired CO2 on normal postnatal vasculogenesis in the neonatal rat retina.
Methods: One hundred fifty newborn rat pups were divided among 15 mothers (n = 10 for each litter). Five litters were exposed to low CO2 (0.2%), 5 litters exposed to 6%, and 5 litters to 10% CO2. On day 7 of life the rats were sacrificed and the total retinal and vascularized retinal areas analyzed.
Results: The vascularized retinal area and ratio of vascularized to total retinal area were reduced in rats exposed to 6% and 10% CO2.
Conclusions: Raised inspired CO2 was associated with retardation of normal retinal vascular development and increased peripheral avascular area in neonatal rats. Raised CO2 may be a risk factor for the development of abnormal neovascularization such as in ROP.