[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Perivascular mural cells of the choroid have been implicated in physiological functioning as well as in retinal disease pathogenesis. However details regarding their form and function are not well understood. We aim to characterize choroidal mural cells in the adult mouse choroid in terms of their distribution and morphology, and correlate these to their contractile behavior.
Sclerochoroidal flat-mounted explants were prepared from albino transgenic mice in which the α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) promoter drives the expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP). α-SMA-expressing smooth muscle cells and pericytes in the living choroid were thereby rendered fluorescent and imaged with confocal microscopy and live-cell imaging in situ.
Choroidal perivascular mural cells demonstrate significant diversity in terms of their distribution and morphology at different levels of the vasculature. They range from densely-packed circumferentially-oriented cells that provide complete vascular coverage in primary arteries to widely-spaced stellate-shaped cells that are distributed sparsely over terminal arterioles. Mural cells at each level are immunopositive for contractile proteins α-SMA and desmin and demonstrate vasoconstrictory contractile movements in response to endothelin-1 and the calcium ionophore, A23187, and vasodilation in response to the calcium chelator, BAPTA. The prominence of vasoregulatory contractile responses varies with mural cell morphology and density, and is greater in vessels with dense coverage of mural cells with circumferential cellular morphologies. In the choriocapillaris, pericytes demonstrate a sparse, horizontal distribution and are selectively distributed only to the scleral surface of the choriocapillaris.
Diversity and regional specialization of perivascular mural cells may subserve varying requirements for vasoregulation in the choroid. The model of the α-SMA-GFP transgenic albino mouse provides a useful and intact system for the morphological and functional study of choroidal mural cells.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e53386. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cone photoreceptors are the primary initiator of visual transduction in the human retina. Dysfunction or death of rod photoreceptors precedes cone loss in many retinal and macular degenerative diseases, suggesting a rod-dependent trophic support for cone survival. Rod differentiation and homeostasis are dependent on the basic motif leucine zipper transcription factor neural retina leucine zipper (NRL). The loss of Nrl (Nrl(-/-)) in mice results in a retina with predominantly S-opsin-containing cones that exhibit molecular and functional characteristics of wild-type cones. Here, we report that Nrl(-/-) retina undergoes a rapid but transient period of degeneration in early adulthood, with cone apoptosis, retinal detachment, alterations in retinal vessel structure, and activation and translocation of retinal microglia. However, cone degeneration stabilizes by 4 months of age, resulting in a thinner but intact outer nuclear layer with residual cones expressing S- and M-opsins and a preserved photopic electroretinogram. At this stage, microglia translocate back to the inner retina and reacquire a quiescent morphology. Gene profiling analysis during the period of transient degeneration reveals misregulation of genes related to stress response and inflammation, implying their involvement in cone death. The Nrl(-/-) mouse illustrates the long-term viability of cones in the absence of rods and retinal pigment epithelium defects in a rodless retina. We propose that Nrl(-/-) retina may serve as a model for elucidating mechanisms of cone homeostasis and degeneration that would be relevant to understanding diseases of the cone-dominant human macula.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2012; 32(2):528-41. · 6.91 Impact Factor