The Role of the Microglial Cx3cr1 Pathway in the Postnatal Maturation of Retinal Photoreceptors

Journal: Journal of Neuroscience

Published: 2018-05-16

DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.2368-17.2018

Affiliations: 1

Authors: 10

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Research Highlight

Immune cells in the eye support daylight vision

© Dieter Hopf/Getty

© Dieter Hopf/Getty

Microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system, play a key role in the development of vision, scientists at the University of Melbourne have found. They showed that microglia support the survival of photoreceptor neurons in the retina of mice after birth.

Photoreceptors are specialized sensory neurons that convert light into electrical signals, which are then decoded in the brain to create conscious vision. A mutation in the gene encoding CX3C chemokine receptor 1 (Cx3cr1) in microglia led to the loss of cone photoreceptors soon after mice first opened their eyes.

Impaired signalling through this receptor affected the expression of genes involved in regulating photoreceptor structure and function. A better understanding of the mechanisms by which microglia interact with cells in the retina will aid earlier detection of eye diseases and, potentially, halt the progression of vision loss.

Supported content

  1. Journal of Neuroscience 38, 4708–4723 (2018). doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2368-17.2018
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The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia 1