Purpose. Glaucoma is presumed to result in the selective loss of retinal ganglion cells. In many neural systems' this loss would initiate a cascade of transneuronal degeneration. The quantification of changes in neuronal populations in the middle layers of the retina can be difficult with conventional histologic techniques. A method was developed based on multiphoton imaging of 4′6′-diamino-2-phenylindole (DAPI)-stained tissue to quantify neuron loss in postmortem human glaucomatous retinas. Methods. Retinas from normal and glaucomatous eyes fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde were incubated at 4°C overnight in DAPI solution. DAPI-labeled neurons at different levels of the retina were imaged by multiphoton confocal microscopy. Algorithms were developed for the automated identification of neurons in the retinal ganglion cell layer (RGCL)' inner nucleus layer (INL)' and outer nuclear layer (ONL). Results. In glaucomatous retinas' the mean density of RGCs within 4 mm eccentricity was reduced by approximately 45%' with the greatest RGC loss occurring in a region that corresponds to the central 6° to 14° of vision. Significant neuron loss in the INL and ONL was also seen at 2 to 4 mm and 2 to 3 mm eccentricities' respectively. The ratios of neuron densities in the INL and ONL relative to the RGCL (INL/RGC and ONL/ RGC' respectively) were found to increase significantly at 3 to 4 mm eccentricity. Conclusions. The data confirm that the greatest neuronal loss occurs in the RGCL in human glaucoma. Neuronal loss was also observed in the outer retinal layers (INL and ONL) that correlated spatially with changes in the RGCL. Further work is necessary to confirm whether these changes arise from trans-neuronal degeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience