Rapid glutamatergic alterations in the neural retina induced by retinal detachment

D. M. Sherry, E. Townes-Anderson

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36 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Retinal detachment induces neurochemical changes in the neural retina over a span of days to weeks. However, little information is available on the acute response in the retina to detachment. METHODS. Distribution of the neurotransmitters glutamate, glycine, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the metabolic amino acids aspartate and glutamine was examined immunocytochemically from 5 to 30 minutes and at 3 hours after retinal detachment in a salamander eyecup preparation. RESULTS. Glutamate showed a rapid depletion from neuronal cell bodies in detached retina, whereas Muller cells, which normally sequester and metabolize glutamate, showed increased immunolabeling for glutamine. Changes occurred exclusively in detached retinal regions of the eyecup. Aspartate, a precursor for glutamate synthesis, also showed decreased labeling in neuronal cell bodies in detached retinal regions, although these changes were not as striking as those observed for glutamate. In contrast, the distributions of the inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitters glycine and GABA were not affected appreciably by acute retinal detachment. CONCLUSIONS. These results indicate that retinal detachment induces rapid, localized alterations in the glutamatergic system of the neural retina that are consistent with a massive efflux of neuronal glutamate and concomitant alterations in glutamate metabolism. An acute efflux of neuronal glutamate in detached retina could contribute to excitotoxicity and to the initiation of structural alterations and changes in gene expression; it is also consistent with reported neurochemical changes associated with longer term retinal detachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2779-2790
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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