[Skip to Navigation]
November 1992

Morphometric Analysis of Macular Photoreceptors and Ganglion Cells in Retinas With Retinitis Pigmentosa

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology (Drs Stone, Barlow, and Milam) and Biostatistics (Dr Barlow), University of Washington, Seattle, and the Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC (Drs Humayun and de Juan). Dr Milam is a Senior Scholar of Research to Prevent Blindness Inc, New York, NY.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1992;110(11):1634-1639. doi:10.1001/archopht.1992.01080230134038

• There have been a number of histopathologic studies of retinas that were taken post mortem from patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), but few have addressed the question of transneuronal degeneration of ganglion cells secondary to photoreceptor death. We studied sectioned maculae that were obtained from 41 patients with different genetic forms of RP: autosomal dominant (n=11); X-linked (n=9); and simplex (n=21). We also studied sectioned maculae that were taken from 20 age-matched normal subjects. We counted cell bodies in the photoreceptor and ganglion cell layers at 100-μm (0.35°) intervals from the foveola to 1500-μm eccentricity and compared the mean cell counts among each group with RP. Each RP type had significantly fewer (P<.05) photoreceptors than those of the control group at each 100-μm interval. At eccentricities of 700 to 1500 μm, the retinas with X-linked and autosomal dominant RP had significantly fewer (P<.05) ganglion cells than those of the control group; the simplex RP mean ganglion cell counts were significantly lower (P<.05) than those of the control group, from 1000 to 1500 μm. The mean photoreceptor and ganglion cell counts had a.43 correlation (P<.001) in the zone of 700 to 1500 μm, consistent with transneuronal ganglion cell degeneration. Current experimental attempts to restore vision in diseased retinas by simulating or replacing photoreceptors are based on the premise that ganglion cells are retained after photoreceptor death. Our findings support this assumption.

Add or change institution