Differential sensitivity of cones to iron-mediated oxidative damage

Brian S. Rogers, Robert C.A. Symons, Keiichi Komeima, Ji Kui Shen, Weihong Xiao, Mara E. Swaim, Yuan Gong Yuan, Shu Kachi, Peter A. Campochiaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE. In this study, the hypothesis that increased intraocular levels of iron cause oxidative damage to the retina was tested. METHODS. Adult C57BL/6 mice were given an intravitreous injection of saline or 0.10, 0.25, or 0.50 mM FeSO4. Scotopic electroretinograms (ERGs) were performed 3, 7, and 14 days after injection, and photopic ERGs were performed on day 14. Hydroethidine was used to identify superoxide radicals and lipid peroxidation was visualized by staining for hydroxynonenal (HNE). Retinal cell death was evaluated by TUNEL and measurement of inner nuclear layer (INL) and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness. Levels of rhodopsin and cone-opsin mRNA were measured by quantitative real time RT-PCR. Cone density was assessed by peanut agglutinin staining and confocal microscopy. RESULTS. Compared with retinas in saline-injected eyes, retinas from eyes injected with FeSO4 showed greater fluorescence after intravenous injection of hydroethidine due to superoxide radicals in photoreceptors, greater photoreceptor staining for HNE, a marker of lipid peroxidation, and increased expression of Heme oxygenase 1, an indicator of oxidative stress. ERG b-wave amplitudes were reduced (photopic > scotopic) in FeSO4-injected eyes compared with those in saline-injected eyes. Numerous TUNEL-stained nuclei were seen along the outer border of the ONL, the location of cone cell nuclei, at 1 and 2 days after injection of FeSO 4. In FeSO4-injected eyes, the thickness of the ONL, but not the INL, was significantly reduced, and 17 days after injection, there were 3.8- and 2.6-fold reductions in the mRNAs for M-cone and S-cone opsin, respectively, whereas there was no significant difference in rhodopsin mRNA. Confocal microscopy of peanut agglutinin-stained sections showed dose-dependent FeSO4-induced cone drop out. CONCLUSIONS. Increased intraocular levels of FeSO4 cause oxidative damage to photoreceptors with greater damage to cones than rods. This finding suggests that the oxidative defense system of cones differs from that of rods and other retinal cells, and that cones are more susceptible to damage from the type of oxidative stress imposed by iron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-445
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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