As photoreceptor degeneration progresses in Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats, a variety of morphological and physiological alterations occur in the outer retina. Since the choriocapillaris responds to changes in the outer retina in other retinopathies, we examined the possibility that changes in the choroidal vasculature also occur in RCS rats. The choroidal and choriocapillary vessels in RCS and control (RCSrdy+ rats were examined during the period after which photoreceptor loss and retinal vascular changes had occurred (7-mos to 28-mos). Light microscopic (LM) morphometry and electron microscopic (EM) examination showed no significant differences between these groups in the number, size or morphology of these vessels. However, EM image analysis revealed that nerve fibers and bundles were twice as abundant in the RCS choroid than in the control. Using immunohistochemical techniques at the LM level combined with image analysis we found that vasoactive intestinal polypeptide positive (VIP+ fibers were significantly increased in the RCS choroid compared with control choroid. In contrast, the abundance of immunoreactive fibers labelled for substance P and dopamine β hydroxylase appeared similar in both the control and RCS choroid. Since VIP is a potent vasodilator, the increased abundance of nerve fibers in the RCS choroid in conjunction with the unaltered number and size of these vessels suggests that choroidal blood flow may be increased. It is uncertain whether this increase is a response to the outer retinal pathology or contributes to it.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience