Krypton laser photocoagulation induces retinal vascular remodeling rather than choroidal neovascularization

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The purpose of this study is to analyze the retina and choroid response following krypton laser photocoagulation. Ninety-two C57BL6/Sev129 and 32 C57BL/6J, 5–6-week-old mice received one single krypton (630 nm) laser lesion: 50 μm, 0.05 s, 400 mW. On the following day, every day thereafter for 1 week and every 2–3 days for the following 3 weeks, serial sections throughout the lesion were systematically collected and studied. Immunohistology using specific markers or antibodies for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) (astrocytes, glia and Muller's cells), von Willebrand (vW) (vascular endothelial cells), TUNEL (cells undergoing caspase dependent apoptosis), PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) p36, CD4 and F4/80 (infiltrating inflammatory and T cells), DAPI (cell nuclei) and routine histology were carried out. Laser confocal microscopy was also performed on flat mounts. Temporal and spatial observations of the created photocoagulation lesions demonstrate that, after a few hours, activated glial cells within the retinal path of the laser beam express GFAP. After 48 h, GFAP-positive staining was also detected within the choroid lesion center. “Movement” of this GFAP-positive expression towards the lasered choroid was preceded by a well-demarcated and localized apoptosis of the retina outer nuclear layer cells within the laser beam path. Later, death of retinal outer nuclear cells and layer thinning at this site was followed by evagination of the inner nuclear retinal layer. Funneling of the entire inner nuclear and the thinned outer nuclear layers into the choroid lesion center was accompanied by “dragging” of the retinal capillaries. Thus, from days 10 to 14 after krypton laser photocoagulation onward, well-formed blood capillaries (of retinal origin) were observed within the lesion. Only a few of the vW-positive capillary endothelial cells stained also for PCNA p36. In the choroid, dilatation of the vascular bed occurred at the vicinity of the photocoagulation site and around it. Confocal microscopy demonstrates that the vessels throughout the path lesion are located within the neuroretina while in the choroid (after separation of the neural retina) only GFAP-positive but no lectin-positive cells can be seen. The involvement of infiltrating inflammatory cells in these remodeling and healing processes remained minimal throughout the study period. During the 4 weeks following krypton laser photocoagulation in the mouse eye, processes of wound healing and remodeling appear to be driven by cells (and vessels) originating from the retina.

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