Tag Archives: retina

Increasing Electrical Stimulation Efficacy in Degenerated Retina: Stimulus Waveform Design in a Multiscale Computational Model

We have a new publication out (direct link), Increasing Electrical Stimulation Efficacy in Degenerated Retina: Stimulus Waveform Design in a Multiscale Computational Model authored by Kyle Loizos, Robert Marc, Mark Humayun, James R. Anderson, Bryan W. Jones and Gianluca Lazzi.

Abstract—A computational model of electrical stimulation of the retina is proposed for investigating current waveforms used in prosthetic devices for restoring partial vision lost to retina degen- erative diseases. The model framework combines a connectome- based neural network model characterized by accurate mor- phological and synaptic properties with an Admittance Method model of bulk tissue and prosthetic electronics. In this model, the retina was computationally “degenerated,” considering cellular death and anatomical changes that occur early in disease, as well as altered neural behavior that develops throughout the neurodegeneration and is likely interfering with current attempts at restoring vision. A resulting analysis of stimulation range and threshold of ON ganglion cells within retina that are either healthy or in beginning stages of degeneration is presented for currently-used stimulation waveforms, and an asymmetric biphasic current stimulation for subduing spontaneous firing to allow increased control over ganglion cell firing patterns in degenerated retina is proposed. Results show that stimulation thresholds of retinal ganglion cells do not notably vary after beginning stages of retina degeneration. In addition, simulation of proposed asymmetric waveforms showed the ability to enhance the control of ganglion cell firing via electrical stimulation.

Structure-Function Correlation Across The Central Visual Field Using Pointwise Comparisons and Ganglion Cell Isocontours Derived From Pattern Recognition

We presented an abstract for 23rd International visual field and imaging symposium in Kanazawa, Japan on May 12th titled, Structure-function correlation across the central visual field using pointwise comparisons and ganglion cell isocontours derived from pattern recognition.  Authors are:

Kalloniatis M1,2, Tong J1,2, Yoshioka N1,2, Khuu SK2, Phu J1,2, Choi A1,2, Zangerl B1, Nivison-Smith L1,2, Bui BV4, Marc RE3, Jones BW3

  1. Centre for Eye Health, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Kensington, NSW, Australia.
  2. School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
  3. Moran Eye Center, Univ of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States of America.
  4. Department of Optometry and Vision Science, Univ of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

Purpose: To establish the correlation between visual field sensitivity and ganglion cell density within the central 20 degrees.  We hypothesized that the use of a test stimulus within complete spatial summation (Goldmann II, GII) would display improved correlation compared to the standard GIII test stimulus.

Methods:One eye of 40 normal subjectswas included in this study. The Humphrey Field Analyser (HFA) was used in full-threshold mode for the 10-2 test grid and 12 points from the 30-2 grid that matched the outer Spectralis grid. Spectralis OCT posterior pole scans for each subject was extracted and the average ganglion cell layer (GCL) thickness values were obtained for each of the 64 grid location within the measurement area ~6880µmx6880µm.  HFA sensitivity in dB was plotted against GC density/mm3(calculated from GCL thickness and GC density from histological data, also converted into dB). Both visual field and OCT data were converted to a 50 year-old equivalent for analysis. The Drasdo et al VR 2007 correction was applied to visual field data to allow comparison of structure and function (Fig. 1). Linear regression analysis was conducted at each test location using individual data or grouped data derived using the 5, 6, 7 and 8 GC iso-density theme classes of Yoshioka et al IOVS 2017 (Fig. 1). A non-parametric bootstrap was used to determine the 99% distribution limits of the slope and correlation parameters.

Results: Table 1 shows the structure-function correlation slope parameters and coefficients of determination (R2) for point-wise and theme class-based comparisons, using GII and GIII. The use of 5 or 6 theme classes resulted in a slope close to unity and high R2values for GII. Table 2 shows the 99% distribution of the slope parameters and R2values for point wise comparisons and those using 5 theme classes again demonstrating superior correlations for GII (both slope and R2 significantly different p<0.01 compared to pointwise analysis). Correcting the data for test size difference (6dB) did not result in data superposition confirming that GIII test size is not within complete spatial summation within the central 20 degrees.

Conclusions:Using a test stimulus within complete spatial summation (GII) and grouping sensitivities according to GC density test grids derived using pattern recognition (7 or fewer GC theme classes), revealed correlations close to unity with coefficients of determination (R2) >0.90. The high correlations achieved when using theme classes even when using individual datasets, suggests that an approach would provide a useful method to predict alterations of visual field sensitivity from OCT data.

Commercial Relationships Disclosure:MK and SKK commercial Relationship(s):2014/094035 A1 (USA) and 13865419.9 (EU):Code P (Patent): REM, JT, BZ, L N-S, BJ, RF: none

Grant support:  NHMRC 1033224;Guide Dogs NSW/ACT; NIH EY02576, EY015128, EY014800, an Unrestricted Grant to the Moran Eye Center from Research to Prevent Blindness.

Pattern Recognition Analysis of Age-Related Retinal Ganglion Cell Signatures In The Human Eye

We have a new publication in IOVS, Pattern Recognition Analysis of Age-Related Retinal Ganglion Cell Signatures In The Human Eye (Direct link here).  Authors are:  Nayuta Yoshioka, Barbara Zangerl, Lisa Nivison-Smith, Sieu Khuu, Bryan W. Jones, Rebecca Pfeiffer, Robert Marc, and Michael Kalloniatis.

Purpose: We recently used pattern recognition analysis to show macula areas can be classified into statistically distinct clusters in accordance to their age-related retinal ganglion cell layer (RGCL) thickness change in a normal population. The aim of this study was to perform a retrospective cross-sectional analysis utilizing a large cohort of patients to establish accuracy of this model and to develop a normative dataset using a 50-year-old equivalent cohort.

Methods: Data was collected from patients seen at the Centre for Eye Health for optic nerve assessment without posterior pole disease. The grid-wise RGCL thickness was obtained from a single eye of each patient via Spectralis OCT macular scan over an 8×8 measurement grid. Measurements for patients outside the 45-54 age range (training cohort) were converted to 50-year-old equivalent value utilizing pattern recognition derived regression model which, in brief, consists of 8×8 grid clustered into 8 distinct classes according to the pattern of RGCL thickness change with age. Accuracy of the predictions was assessed by comparing the training cohort’s measurements to the 45-54 year reference cohort using t-test and one-way ANOVA.

Results: Data were collected from a total 248 patients aged 20 to 78.1 years. 80 patients within this group were aged 45 – 54 and formed the reference cohort (average±SD 49.6±2.83) and the remaining 168 eyes formed the training cohort (average age±SD 50.7±17.34). Converted values for the training set matched those of the reference cohort (average disparity±SD 0.10±0.42µm, range -0.74-1.34µm) and were not significantly different (p > 0.9). Most variability was observed with patients above 70 years of age (average disparity±SD -0.09±1.73µm, range -3.67 to 6.16µm) and central grids corresponding to the fovea (average disparity±SD 0.47±0.72µm, range -0.22 to 1.34µm).

Conclusions: Our regression model for normal age-related RGCL change can accurately convert and/or predict RGCL thickness for individuals in comparison to 50-year-equivalent reference cohort and could allow for more accurate assessment of RGCL thickness and earlier detection of significant loss in the future. Caution may be needed when applying the model in the foveal area or for patients older than 70 years.

The Rod-Cone Crossover Connectome of Mammalian Bipolar Cells

We have a new publication out (direct link), The rod-cone crossover connectome of mammalian bipolar cells authored by Scott Lauritzen, Crystal Sigulinsky, James Anderson, Michael Kalloniatis, Noah Nelson, Danny Emrich, Chris Rapp, Nicolas McCarthy, Ethan Kerzner, Mariah Meyer, Bryan W. Jones, and Robert Marc.

Abstract: The basis of cross-suppression between rod and cone channels has long been an enigma. Using rabbit retinal connectome RC1, we show that all cone bipolar cell (BC) classes inhibit rod BCs via amacrine cell (AC) motifs (C1-6); that all cone BC classes are themselves inhibited by AC motifs (R1-5, R25) driven by rod BCs. A sparse symmetric AC motif (CR) is presynaptic and postsynaptic to both rod and cone BCs. ON cone BCs of all classes drive inhibition of rod BCs via motif C1 wide-field GABAergic ACs (γACs) and motif C2 narrow field glycinergic ON ACs (GACs). Each rod BC receives ≈ 10 crossover AC synapses and each ON cone BC can target ≈ 10 or more rod BCs via separate AC processes. OFF cone BCs mediate monosynaptic inhibition of rod BCs via motif C3 driven by OFF γACs and GACs and disynaptic inhibition via motifs C4 and C5 driven by OFF wide-field γACs and narrow-field GACs, respectively. Motifs C4 and C5 form halos of 60-100 inhibitory synapses on proximal dendrites of AI γACs. Rod BCs inhibit surrounding arrays of cone BCs through AII GAC networks that access ON and OFF cone BC patches via motifs R1, R2, R4 R5 and a unique ON AC motif R3 that collects rod BC inputs and targets ON cone BCs. Crossover synapses for motifs C1, C4, C5 and R3 are 3-4x larger than typical feedback synapses, which may be a signature for synaptic winner-take-all switches.

Retinal Remodeling And Metabolic Alterations in Human AMD

We have a new publication out (direct link, open access), Müller Cell Metabolic Chaos During Retinal Degeneration authored by Bryan W. JonesRebecca Pfeiffer, William Ferrell, Carl Watt, James Tucker, and Robert Marc.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive retinal degeneration resulting in central visual field loss, ultimately causing debilitating blindness. AMD affects 18% of Americans from 65 to 74, 30% older than 74 years of age and is the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness in Western populations. While many genetic and environmental risk factors are known for AMD, we currently know less about the mechanisms mediating disease progression. The pathways and mechanisms through which genetic and non-genetic risk factors modulate development of AMD pathogenesis remain largely unexplored. Moreover, current treatment for AMD is palliative and limited to wet/exudative forms. Retina is a complex, heterocellular tissue and most retinal cell classes are impacted or altered in AMD. Defining disease and stage-specific cytoarchitectural and metabolic responses in AMD is critical for highlighting targets for intervention. The goal of this article is to illustrate cell types impacted in AMD and demonstrate the implications of those changes, likely beginning in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), for remodeling of the the neural retina. Tracking heterocellular responses in disease progression is best achieved with computational molecular phenotyping (CMP), a tool that enables acquisition of a small molecule fingerprint for every cell in the retina. CMP uncovered critical cellular and molecular pathologies (remodeling and reprogramming) in progressive retinal degenerations such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). We now applied these approaches to normal human and AMD tissues mapping progression of cellular and molecular changes in AMD retinas, including late-stage forms of the disease.

Müller Cell Metabolic Chaos During Retinal Degeneration

We have a new publication out (direct link, open access), Müller Cell Metabolic Chaos During Retinal Degeneration authored by Rebecca PfeifferRobert Marc, Mineo Kondo, Hiroko Terasaki and Bryan W. Jones.


Müller cells play a critical role in retinal metabolism and are among the first cells to demonstrate metabolic changes in retinal stress or disease. The timing, extent, regulation, and impacts of these changes are not yet known. We evaluated metabolic phenotypes of Müller cells in the degenerating retina.

Retinas harvested from wild-type (WT) and rhodopsin Tg P347L rabbits were fixed in mixed aldehydes and resin embedded for computational molecular phenotyping (CMP). CMP facilitates small molecule fingerprinting of every cell in the retina, allowing evaluation of metabolite levels in single cells.

CMP revealed signature variations in metabolite levels across Müller cells from TgP347L retina. In brief, neighboring Müller cells demonstrated variability in taurine, glutamate, glutamine, glutathione, glutamine synthetase (GS), and CRALBP. This variability showed no correlation across metabolites, implying the changes are functionally chaotic rather than simply heterogeneous. The inability of any clustering algorithm to classify Müller cell as a single class in the TgP347L retina is a formal proof of metabolic variability in the present in degenerating retina.

Although retinal degeneration is certainly the trigger, Müller cell metabolic alterations are not a coherent response to the microenvironment. And while GS is believed to be the primary enzyme responsible for the conversion of glutamate to glutamine in the retina, alternative pathways appear to be unmasked in degenerating retina. Somehow, long term remodeling involves loss of Müller cell coordination and identity, which has negative implications for therapeutic interventions that target neurons alone.

Progressive Retinal Remodeling In A Transgenic Rabbit Model Of Retinitis Pigmentosa

This poster was presented today, May 2th at the 2016 Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) meetings in Seattle, Washington by Rebecca L. Pfeiffer, Bryan W. Jones, and Robert E. Marc.

Posterboard #: D0246

Abstract Number: 2256 – D0246

Author Block: Rebecca L. Pfeiffer1,2 , Bryan W. Jones1,2 , Robert E. Marc1,2 
1 Ophthalmology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; 2 Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Purpose:Retinal degenerations are a collection of neural disorders, usually precipitated by photoreceptor degeneration. All display progressive metabolic alterations and neural loss following the death of the photoreceptors. Although it has been demonstrated that the metabolism of Müller cells (MCs) is drastically altered in degeneration, the full impact of these changes on surrounding neurons and long-term characterization of remodeling was previously unavailable, due to short lifespans of model organisms.

Methods:Retinal samples were collected from WT and Tg P347L rabbits at ages ranging from 3 months to 6 years. Following enucleation, retinas were divided into fragments and incubated for 10 minutes at 35 degrees C in D-isomers of Glutamate (dE), Glutamine (dQ), or Aspartate (dD) and Ames-bicarbonate medium to explore retinal transport capabilities at each stage of degeneration. Retinas were then fixed in mixed aldehyde buffer and processed for transmission electron microscope connectomics, immunocytochemistry for a range of macromolecules, and computational molecular phenotyping for small molecules (CMP) (J Comp Neurol. 464:1, 2003).

Results:CMP reveals that single metabolic phenotype of MCs splits and diverges into many phenotypes continuously throughout degeneration. Further, all neuronal classes continue to die throughout degeneration. By 6 years, over 90% of neurons are lost, and the remaining glutamatergic neurons have altered metabolic signatures with a large increase in aspartate levels, at times exceeding glutamate. Transport of the D-isomers indicates that glutamate transport capabilities remain intact until the latest stages of degeneration. This may not be true of their GABA transporters.

Conclusions:These results suggest three main conclusions. First, retinal remodeling in degeneration is relentlessly progressive long after all photoreceptors have disappeared. Second, cell types previously thought to remain after degeneration onset, such as ganglion cells, will also ultimately die and the cells not lost often will change their metabolism. The consequence of this metabolic change in neurons is not yet fully explored. Third, the persistent robust glutamate transport capabilities of Müller cells indicate Müller cells can metabolize glutamate despite the massive loss of glutamine synthetase activity, likely unmasking alternate metabolic pathways.

Metabolic Changes During Late Stage Retinal Degeneration In Heterozygous Crx Mutant Cats (CrxRdy/+)

This abstract was presented today, May 2th at the 2016 Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) meetings in Seattle, Washington by Laurence Occelli, Bryan W. Jones, and Simon M. Petersen-Jones.

Posterboard #: D0250

Abstract Number: 2260 – D0250

Author Block: Laurence M. Occelli, Bryan W. Jones, Simon M. Petersen-Jones
1 Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States; 2 Ophthalmology, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Disclosure Block:Laurence M. Occelli, None; Bryan W. Jones, None; Simon M. Petersen-Jones, None

Purpose: CRX is a transcription factor essential for normal photoreceptor development and survival. The CrxRdy cat has a spontaneous mutation in Crx. Early disease stages in heterozygous cats (CrxRdy/+) mimics severe Leber’s congenital amaurosis. This study investigated the timing and extent of retinal remodeling in the late stages of retinal degeneration. This will help optimizing the best time for therapies such as retinal prosthesis or optogenetics before retinal rewiring and glial scar become too extensive.

Methods: CrxRdy/+ cats from 6 weeks to 10 years of age were investigated. Eyes were fixed in mixed aldehyde buffer and processed for immunocytochemistry for computational molecular phenotyping for macromolecules and small molecules (CMP) including GABA, glycine, glutamate, taurine, glutamine, aspartate, rhodopsin and red green opsin (J Comp Neurol. 464:1 2003). Samples from 5 retinal areas were collected: area centralis, mid- and far-superior as well as mid- and far-inferior regions.

Results: CMP revealed an absence of red green opsin and a decrease in rhodopsin expression with mislocalization to the photoreceptor inner segments (IS) and cell bodies as early as 6 weeks of age. Inner and outer photoreceptor segments (IS/OS) were present but short at 6 weeks of age. By 12 weeks of age, very few of the stunted OS remained and IS were very short. At that age, Müller cells had become activated initiating hypertrophy, and indicating cell stress. By 5 years of age, a Müller cell seal was clearly present disrupting the retinal lamination via glial columns. Migration of inner nuclear layer cells with inverted and everted cells was also observed from an early age as well as horizontal and amacrine cell sprouting. By 5 years of age, microneuromas formations had developed (Fig.1). Extreme thinning and remodeling was observed in the peripheral retina of older animals and retinal pigment epithelium was lost from the area centralis.

Conclusions: This study indicates that retinal degeneration in the CrxRdy/+ cat retina follows the 3 proposed phases of retinal remodeling. As early as 12 weeks of age, some glial reaction to photoreceptor death was observed followed by formation of a glial seal, rewiring and inner nuclear layer cells migration. Finally, microneuroma formation, severe retinal thinning and remodeling was developed.

2-nm Resolution Anatomy of Retinal Neuro-Glial-Vascular Architecture

This abstract was presented today, May 2th at the 2016 Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) meetings in Seattle, Washington by Jefferson R. Brown, Rebecca L. Pfeiffer, Crystal Sigulinsky, Felix Vazquez-Chona, Daniel Emrich, Bryan W. Jones, Robert E. Marc.

Abstract Number: 995

Author Block: Jefferson R. Brown, Rebecca L. Pfeiffer, Crystal Sigulinsky, Felix Vazquez-Chona, Daniel Emrich, Bryan W. Jones, Robert E. Marc
1 Dept of Ophthalmology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Disclosure Block:Jefferson R. Brown, None; Rebecca L. Pfeiffer, None; Crystal Sigulinsky, None; Felix Vazquez-Chona, None; Daniel Emrich, None; Bryan W. Jones, None; Robert E. Marc, Signature Immunologics (Code I (Personal Financial Interest) )

Purpose:Retinal vasculature is strongly affected by degenerative pathologies and in turn, may also contribute to their progression. However, much of what we understand about the normal, healthy interaction between neurons, glia, and blood vessels at the ultrastructural level is limited to single section electron microscopy. The technology of serial section transmission electron microscopy (ssTEM) extends the high definition of TEM imaging into three dimensions to create volumes, allowing for more thorough visualization and analysis of the vascular-glial-neuronal complex.

Methods:RC2 is a 40TB ssTEM volume of over 1,400 horizontal sections of retinal tissue derived from an adult female C57BL/6J mouse. The tissue sample is 250 um in diameter and spans the outer nuclear layer to the vitreal surface. Baseline resolution is 2.18nm per pixel. Visualization, navigation and metadata annotations of the database are made via the Viking software suite.

Results:Much of the retinal vascular basement membrane directly contacts Muller cells. In the ganglion cell layer, direct basement membrane contact with astrocytes is frequent. Microglia commonly contact the basement membrane, and occasionally direct contact of neurons onto basement membrane was observed. Full 3D reconstruction of all vascular pathways with associated endothelia and pericytes within the volume was completed, demonstrating that all the retinal capillary layers are continuous with one another [Figure].

Conclusions:The presence of occasional direct neuronal contact onto vascular basement membrane supports earlier work by Ochs and colleagues (2000) and suggests the blood-retina barrier does not universally involve retinal glia. However, since such contacts are extremely sparse, it remains to be seen whether this finding has biologic significance, though their existence suggests significance. The RC2 volume is a valuable resource to aid in discovery of defining characteristics of wild type neurovascular architecture.

The intro figure is a side view of reconstruction of all vasculature within the RC2 volume. Vessels at the top of the figure correspond to the outer plexiform layer, while those at the bottom correspond to the ganglion cell layer. This capillary plexus is one continuous structure. Visualization by VikingView software.

Retinal Remodeling in Human Retinitis Pigmentosa

We have a new publication out (Direct Link, Free Open Access), Retinal Remodeling in Human Retinitis Pigmentosa authored by Bryan W. Jones, Rebecca Pfeiffer, Drew Ferrell, Carl Watt, Michael Marmor and Robert Marc.

Abstract: Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) in the human is a progressive, currently irreversible neural degenerative disease usually caused by gene defects that disrupt the function or architecture of the photoreceptors. While RP can initially be a disease of photoreceptors, there is increasing evidence that the inner retina becomes progressively disorganized as the outer retina degenerates. These alterations have been extensively described in animal models, but remodeling in humans has not been as well characterized. This study, using computational molecular phenotyping (CMP) seeks to advance our understanding of the retinal remodeling process in humans. We describe cone mediated preservation of overall topology, retinal reprogramming in the earliest stages of the disease in retinal bipolar cells, and alterations in both small molecule and protein signatures of neurons and glia. Furthermore, while Müller glia appear to be some of the last cells left in the degenerate retina, they are also one of the first cell classes in the neural retina to respond to stress which may reveal mechanisms related to remodeling and cell death in other retinal cell classes. Also fundamentally important is the finding that retinal network topologies are altered. Our results suggest interventions that presume substantial preservation of the neural retina will likely fail in late stages of the disease. Even early intervention offers no guarantee that the interventions will be immune to progressive remodeling. Fundamental work in the biology and mechanisms of disease progression are needed to support vision rescue strategies.