Optimal timing for activation of sigma 1 receptor in the Pde6brd10/J (rd10) mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa

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Sigma 1 Receptor (Sig1R), a pluripotent modulator of cell survival, is a promising target for treatment of retinal degenerative diseases. Previously, we reported that administration of the high-affinity, high-specificity Sig1R ligand (+)-pentazocine, ((+)-PTZ) beginning at post-natal day 14 (P14) and continuing every other day improves visual acuity and delays loss of photoreceptor cells (PRCs) in the Pde6βrd10/J (rd10) mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa. Whether administration of (+)-PTZ, at time points concomitant with (P18) or following (P21, P24) onset of PRC death, would prove neuroprotective was investigated in this study. Rd10 mice were administered (+)-PTZ intraperitoneally [0.5 mg/kg], starting at either P14, P18, P21 or P24. Injections continued every other day through P42. Visual acuity was assessed using the optokinetic tracking response (OKR). Rd10 mice treated with (+)-PTZ beginning at P14 retained visual acuity for the duration of the study (~0.33 c/d at P21, ~0.38 c/d at P28, ~0.32 c/d at P35, ~0.32 c/d at P42), whereas mice injected beginning at P18, P21, P24 showed a decline in acuity when tested at P35 and P42. Their acuity was only slightly better than rd10-non-treated mice. Electrophysiologic function was assessed using scotopic and photopic electroretinography (ERG) to assess rod and cone function, respectively. Photopic a- and b-wave amplitudes were significantly greater in rd10 mice treated with (+)-PTZ beginning at P14 compared with non-treated mice and those in the later-onset (+)-PTZ injection groups. Retinal architecture was visualized in living mice using spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) allowing measurement of the total retinal thickness, the inner retina and the outer retina (the area most affected in rd10 mice). The outer retina measured ~35 μm in rd10 mice treated with (+)-PTZ beginning at P14, which was significantly greater than mice in the later-onset (+)-PTZ injection groups (~25 μm) and non-treated rd10 mice (~25 μm). Following the visual function studies performed in the living mice, eyes were harvested at P42 for histologic analysis. While the inner retina was largely intact in all (+)-PTZ-injection groups, there was a marked reduction in the outer retina of non-treated rd10 mice (e.g. in the outer nuclear layer there were ~10 PRCs/100 μm retinal length). The rd10 mice treated with (+)-PTZ beginning at P14 had ~20 PRCs/100 μm retinal length, whereas the mice in groups beginning P18, P21 and P24 had ~16 PRCs/100 μm retinal length. In conclusion, the data indicate that delaying (+)-PTZ injection past the onset of PRC death in rd10 mice – even by a few days – can negatively impact the long-term preservation of retinal function. Our findings suggest that optimizing the administration of Sig1R ligands is critical for retinal neuroprotection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108397
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • ERG
  • OCT
  • Pentazocine
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Sigma 1 receptor
  • optomotry
  • rd10 mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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