gms | German Medical Science

Artificial Vision — The 2nd Bonn Dialogue. The International Symposium on Visual Prosthesis

Retina Implant Foundation

19.09.2009, Bonn

Molecular and genetic approaches to restore photosensitivity in retinal degeneration

Meeting Abstract

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  • author Heinz Wässle - Max Planck Institut für Hirnforschung, Frankfurt, Germany

Artificial Vision – The 2nd Bonn Dialogue. The International Symposium on Visual Prosthesis. Bonn, 19.-19.09.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09ri02

doi: 10.3205/09ri02, urn:nbn:de:0183-09ri022

Veröffentlicht: 30. November 2009

© 2009 Wässle.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.


Inherited degenerations of rods and cones, that result in blindness, affect 1 in 3000 humans worldwide. Mice carrying the retinal denegeration mutation (rd1/rd1) loose nearly all of their photoreceptors while inner retinal neurons and synaptic circuits survive. There are several recent attempts to make these surviving neurons intrinsically photosensitive and thus restore visual functions after photoreceptor degenerations. Bi et al. [1] injected adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV) into the vitreous and transfected inner retinal neurons with a microbial-type rhodopsin, channelrhodopsin2 (ChR2). Ganglion cells expressing ChR2 showed intrinsic light responses. Lagali et al. [2] targeted ChR2 to retinal ON-bipolar cells in rd1/rd1 mice. They showed that about 7% of the bipolar cells were transfected and could elicit stable light responses. In behavioral studies the transfected mice showed visual responses. Lin et al. [3] used AAV injection into the vitreous of rd1/rd1 mice to ectopically express melanopsin. Approximately 10% of the ganglion cells expressed melanopsin and stable light responses could be recorded from these cells. In behavioral studies visual responses were observed.

We crossed a transgenic mouse line, that expresses ChR2 in the central nervous system [4] into an rd1/rd1 background and approximately 30% of the ganglion cells were found to express ChR2. They gave stable light responses at light ON, and their sensitivity was only 30–100 times lower than the photopic cone sensitivity. The visual performance of the mice was tested in a two choice visual discrimination task. It was dependent on the residual number of cones and was not significantly improved by the expression of ChR2 in retinal ganglion cells. We would argue that changing all physiological classes of retinal ganglion cells into ON-cells "confuses" the visual cortex and, therefore, vision is not restored despite of the ganglion cell light responses.

This lecture is available as video recording (Attachment 1 [Attach. 1]).


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