A healing retina

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Blue and green orb in lower right corner, orange threads protrude from it

Blue and green orb in lower right corner, orange threads protrude from it. Courtesy Kimberly Toops, Ph.D. candidate, UW-Madison department of biomolecular chemistry

One hurdle to treating neurodegenerative diseases is the inability of neurons in the central nervous system to regenerate axons after damage. In glaucoma, retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons, which make up the optic nerve and serve as cables to pass information from our eyes to our brains, are damaged and thus unable to regenerate. Shown here is a segment of a mouse retina that is sprouting new putative axons, termed neurites, from the RGCs after being cultured in a mixture of growth factors and hormones for one week. This segment is labeled with three different fluorescent probes. The new neurites are labeled with an antibody to a component of the RGC cytoskeleton (red), as well as a marker for cell nuclei (blue) and an antibody to a component of the astroglial cells, or nervous system cells, supporting the RGCs (green). The image was taken on a Ziess Axioplan 2 fluorescent microscope.