Autolysis is one of the many pathologic processes which may occur in the retina. It may be defined as the self-digestion of the tissue which results from the action of enzymes that are naturally present in the tissue. Autolysis is inhibited in alkaline tissue, but in acid tissue its rate is determined by the hydrogen ion concentration of the tissue. If the autolytic changes become irreversible, the end-result is atrophy.
The term autolysis does not include the effect which is produced on the retina by the action of enzymes from nonretinal tissue, leukocytes, bacteria or fluids entering the retinal tissue. The effect on the tissue resulting from the action of extracellular enzymes is called heterolysis.
The autolysis of the retina has been only incompletely studied. Galante1 followed the rate of formation of amino-acid during proteolysis of the tissues of the eye by means of the formaldehyde titration
KRAUSE AC. CHEMISTRY OF THE RETINA: III. AUTOLYSIS. Arch Ophthalmol. 1936;16(3):425–432. doi:10.1001/archopht.1936.00840210097006
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