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The retina transforms light signals from the environment into electrical signals that are propagated to the brain. Diseases of the retina are prevalent and cause visual impairment and blindness. Understanding how such diseases progress is critical to formulating new treatments. In vivo microscopy in animal models of disease is a powerful tool for understanding neurodegeneration and has led to important progress towards treatments of conditions ranging from Alzheimer's disease to stroke. Given that the retina is the only central nervous system structure inherently accessible by optical approaches, it naturally lends itself towards in vivo imaging. However, the native optics of the lens and cornea present some challenges for effective imaging access. This protocol outlines methods for in vivo two-photon imaging of cellular cohorts and structures in the mouse retina at cellular resolution, applicable for both acute- and chronic-duration imaging experiments. It presents examples of retinal ganglion cell (RGC), amacrine cell, microglial, and vascular imaging using a suite of labeling techniques including adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, transgenic mice, and inorganic dyes. Importantly, these techniques extend to all cell types of the retina, and suggested methods for accessing other cellular populations of interest are described. Also detailed are example strategies for manual image postprocessing for display and quantification. These techniques are directly applicable to studies of retinal function in health and disease.


Zelun Wang, Sean McCracken, Philip R Williams. Transpupillary Two-photon In vivo Imaging of the Mouse Retina. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2021 Feb 13(168)

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PMID: 33645555

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