A protein called angiopoietin 4 in cells near veins in the retina is important for the fluid drainage that maintains vision
Just as leaky plumbing can damage your house, so leaky blood vessels in your retina can damage your eyes. This is due to the build-up of fluid. Researchers have long studied the leaky side of things but now are also turning to the role of fluid removal, focusing on angiopoietins, proteins involved in blood vessel development. In mice genetically altered to produce fluorescently-tagged angiopoietin 4 (Angpt4), researchers used fluorescence microscopy to image their retinas. They found Angtp4 in cells that support neurons called astrocytes (pictured, green), which were located close to developing veins. In mouse mutants lacking Angpt4, they noticed retinal veins were narrower and nearby neurons were swollen. These faults occurred alongside poor drainage of fluid through the veins and defective neuron function. Angpt4 is therefore one part of a vital mechanism to clear fluid from the retina and so protect the health of neurons that underpin vision.
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