Disturbances in the distribution of neurotransmitters in the rat retina after ischemia

Jay I. Perlman, Shannon M. McCole, Padma Pulluru, Cheng Jong Chang, Tim T. Lam, Mark O.M. Tso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Purpose. Disturbances in neurotransmitter distribution have been observed in cerebral ischemia in the pathophysiologic process of excitotoxicity. The goal of this study was to examine the effect of pressure-induced retinal ischemia on the distribution of the retinal neurotransmitters glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) within the rat retina. Methods. Animals were subjected to increased intraocular pressure of 110 mm Hg for 45 min using an intracameral hydrostatic pressure device. The distribution of glutamate and GABA immunoreactivity (IR) was determined at 0, 2, 4, 8 and 24 hrs after reperfusion by immunogold with silver intensification. Results. Three phases of neurotransmitter immunoreactivity patterns were discernible following retinal ischemia. Immediately following reperfusion (Phase I), a shift of GABA-IR from inner retinal neurons to the Muller cells and their processes was noted. In contrast, despite marked decreases in neuronal glutamate-IR, a less pronounced shift of glutamate-IR to the Muller cells was simultaneously noted. This shift of neurotransmitter IR to the Muller cells was transient with the gradual reappearance of IR within the inner retinal neurons noted 2-8 hrs after reperfusion (Phase II). Phase III began at 8 hrs after reperfusion with progressive loss of GABA-IR noted in the inner retina; by 24 hrs, secondary loss of inner retinal glutamate-IR was evident with corresponding dropout and pyknosis of inner retinal neurons apparent. Conclusions. The distribution of glutamate-IR and GABA-IR was significantly altered following retinal ischemia. The initial alterations noted in Phase I suggested that the regulation of glutamate by Muller cells was disrupted by this ischemic insult leading to glutamate excitotoxicity, and delayed neuronal cell degeneration as evidenced by the subsequent loss of inner retinal immunoreactivity in Phase III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-596
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glutamate
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Muller cell
  • Rat
  • Retinal ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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