Unilateral eye enucleation in adult rats causes neuronal loss in the contralateral superior colliculus

J Anat. 1997 May;190 ( Pt 4)(Pt 4):481-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1469-7580.1997.19040481.x.


Several studies have reported the morphological changes induced by unilateral enucleation during early neonatal life on the developing visual system. This study has examined cellular changes in the superior colliculi by removal of a single eye in adult rats. Anaesthetised male hooded rats aged 90 d had their right eyes removed. Groups of nonenucleated control and enucleated rats were killed when aged either 150 or 390 d. The brains were removed and both the right and left superior colliculi dissected out. The volume of the stratum griseum superficiale (SGS) within these colliculi was estimated stereologically by light microscopy, as well as the numerical density and total number of neurons within this cell layer. The volume of the cell layer was reduced by about 40% on the side contralateral to the enucleated eye but not on the ipsilateral side at both survival periods examined. The numerical density of neurons within the SGS was unaffected by the enucleation so that the colliculi contralateral to the enucleated eye showed a substantial loss of neurons within this cells layer. This study demonstrates the importance of the retinal ganglion cell input, even in adult animals, for maintaining the viability of neurons in the SGS layer of the superior colliculus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Death
  • Eye Enucleation*
  • Male
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / growth & development*
  • Superior Colliculi / pathology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*