To understand the mechanisms of retinal atrophy in cathepsin D-deficient mice, the postnatal development of their retinae was analyzed. TUNEL-positive cells appeared abundantly in the outer nuclear layer (ONL) and slightly in the inner nuclear layer (INL). Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) was induced in microglial cells which invaded retinal layers and phagocytosed dead cell debris, while NOS inhibitors prevented cell death in the INL but not in the ONL. Caspases 9 and 3 were activated only in the ONL after P15. Moreover, no atrophic change was detected in the retina of mice deficient in cathepsin B or L. These results suggest that cathepsin D is essential for the metabolic maintenance of retinal photoreceptor cells and that its deficiency induces apoptosis of the cells, while the loss of INL neurons is mediated by NO from microglial cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology