Purpose: Expressions of certain macromolecules are altered by experimental retinal detachment in the cat. Related alterations in micromolecular signatures of neurons, Müller cells, and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) were investigated.
Methods: High-performance immunochemical mapping, image registration, and quantitative pattern recognition were combined to analyze the amino acid contents of virtually all retinal cell types after 3 to 84 days of detachment.
Results: Retinal micromolecular signatures showed a spectrum of alterations. The glutamate contents of Müller cells increased and remained elevated for weeks after detachment. Multispectral signatures of Müller cells showed massive metabolic instability in early detachment stages that ultimately resolved as a homogeneous profile significantly depleted in glutamine. Retinal pigment epithelial cell signals also changed dramatically, displaying an initial glutamate spike and then a prolonged decline, even as taurine levels followed an opposite pattern of initial loss and slow restoration. Neurotransmitter signatures of surviving neurons showed extensive precursor-level variation, and, in one case, GABAergic horizontal cells displayed anomalous sprouting.
Conclusions: Dramatic changes in Müller cell amino acid signatures triggered by retinal detachment are partially consistent with losses in glutamine synthetase activity. Taurine signal variations suggest that orthotopic RPE cells attempt to regulate abnormal taurine concentrations in the enlarged subretinal space. Surviving neurons possess characteristic neurotransmitter signals, but their metabolite regulation seems abnormal. On balance, microchemical and structural anomalies develop in the detached cat retina that represent serious barriers to recovery of normal visual function.