Monitoring retinal morphologic and functional changes in mice following optic nerve crush

Yang Liu, Colleen M. McDowell, Zhang Zhang, Holly E. Tebow, Robert J. Wordinger, Abbot F. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Purpose. We characterized the morphologic and functional changes in optic nerve crushed mice and evaluated electroretinogram (ERG) responses as tools to monitor retinal ganglion cell (RGC) dysfunction. Methods. We performed optic nerve crush (ONC) unilaterally in adult BALB/cJ mice. The neuronal loss in the RGC layer (GCL) and superior colliculus (SC) was determined by Nissl staining. Retinal thickness was assessed by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) imaging. Retinal function was determined by pattern ERG and full-field flash ERG. Responses of pattern ERG, positive scotopic threshold response (pSTR), scotopic oscillatory potentials (OPs), and photopic negative response (PhNR) were analyzed. Results. The ONC induced progressive neuronal loss in GCL and contralateral SC starting from 7 and 28 days following ONC, respectively. A linear correlation was observed between combined thickness of nerve fiber layer (NFL), GCL, and inner plexiform layer (IPL) imaged by SD-OCT and cell numbers in GCL. Only half of the normal BALB/cJ mice exhibited pattern ERG response, which was smaller and later compared to C57BL/6J mice. The ONC reduced pattern ERG and pSTR, but the reduction of pattern ERG was earlier than pSTR, preceding the anatomical cell loss in the GCL. The PhNR and scotopic OPs were not affected by ONC. Conclusions. The SD-OCT and ERG can be used to monitor noninvasively retinal morphologic and functional changes induced by ONC. Pattern ERG and pSTR are able to detect early RGC dysfunction, but pattern ERG exhibits higher sensitivity. Our results support the use of these tools in studies using the mouse ONC model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3766-3774
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 22 May 2014


  • Electroretinogram
  • Optic nerve crush
  • Retinal ganglion cells


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