Objectives: To determine the role of sympathetic innervation and the effect of topical prostaglandin therapy on iris color in pigmented rabbits.
Methods: Twelve Dutch-belted rabbits underwent unilateral superior cervical ganglionectomy (SCGx) at age 1 to 3 months. A second group of 11 rabbits underwent bilateral SCGx at age 1 month and were treated once or twice daily for 6 to 9 months with 1 drop (about 20 microL) of latanoprost, 0.005%, to one eye and its vehicle to the contralateral eye. Standardized color photographs of the iris of each eye were taken at 1- to 2-month intervals for 6 to 10 months and evaluated by 4 to 6 observers in a masked fashion.
Results: At 8 to 10 months after unilateral SCGx, 11 of 12 rabbits showed definite heterochromia, with the lighter-colored iris on the SCGx side. Of the 11 rabbits that underwent bilateral SCGx and unilateral latanoprost treatment, 9 showed heterochromia at 6 to 9 months, with the darker-colored iris on the latanoprost-treated side.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that sympathetic innervation is required for age-related, physiologic darkening of iris color in rabbits, that prostaglandins may compensate for sympathetic denervation to produce darkening in SCGx eyes, and that this model may be useful to study prostaglandin-induced iris color change.