Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Defence Against Blindness

Müller cells – which support the retina's neurons – protect the macula from oxidative damage

07 July 2019

Defence Against Blindness

The eye’s light sensing retina has two distinct regions – the macula, home to neurons that give us detailed sight, and the periphery for side and night vision. Compared to the peripheral retina, the macula is more susceptible to conditions like diabetic retinopathy, and uniquely to age-related macular degeneration, two of the most common causes of vision loss worldwide. Scientists recently looked to the retina’s Müller cells to explain this vulnerability. Found in both the macula and periphery, Müller cells help maintain a stable and functional environment for retinal neurons. The team found that several molecular functions were more active in Müller cells in the human macula (pictured, two cross-sections stained for different Müller cell markers) compared to the periphery. These particular functions are thought to defend the macula from oxidative stress, which could make this sensitive area more susceptible to vision loss. Digging further into Müller cells’ protective role could uncover new treatments for blinding diseases.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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