Retinal prostheses that are currently used to restore vision in patients suffering from retinal degeneration are not adjusted to the changes occurring during the remodeling process of the retina. Recent studies revealed abnormal rhythmic activity in the retina of genetic mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa. Here we describe this abnormal activity also in a pharmacologically-induced (MNU) mouse model of retinal degeneration. To investigate how this abnormal activity affects the excitability of retinal ganglion cells, we recorded the electrical activity from whole mounted retinas of rd10 mice and MNU-treated mice using a microelectrode array system and applied biphasic current pulses of different amplitude and duration to stimulate ganglion cells electrically. We show that the electrical stimulation efficiency is strongly reduced in degenerated retinas, in particular when abnormal activity such as oscillations and rhythmic firing of bursts of action potentials can be observed. Using a prestimulus pulse sequence, we could abolish rhythmic retinal activity. Under these conditions, the stimulation efficiency was enhanced in a few cases but not in the majority of tested cells. Nevertheless, this approach supports the idea that modified stimulation protocols could help to improve the efficiency of retinal prostheses in the future.
Haselier, C., Biswas, S., Rösch, S., Thumann, G., Müller, F., & Walter, P. (2017). Correlations between specific patterns of spontaneous activity and stimulation efficiency in degenerated retina. PLoS ONE, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190048