Recording from defined populations of retinal ganglion cells using a high-density CMOS-integrated microelectrode array with real-time switchable electrode selection.
ABSTRACT: In order to understand how retinal circuits encode visual scenes, the neural activity of defined populations of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) has to be investigated. Here we report on a method for stimulating, detecting, and subsequently targeting defined populations of RGCs. The possibility to select a distinct population of RGCs for extracellular recording enables the design of experiments that can increase our understanding of how these neurons extract precise spatio-temporal features from the visual scene, and how the brain interprets retinal signals. We used light stimulation to elicit a response from physiologically distinct types of RGCs and then utilized the dynamic-configurability capabilities of a microelectronics-based high-density microelectrode array (MEA) to record their synchronous action potentials. The layout characteristics of the MEA made it possible to stimulate and record from multiple, highly overlapping RGCs simultaneously without light-induced artifacts. The high-density of electrodes and the high signal-to-noise ratio of the MEA circuitry allowed for recording of the activity of each RGC on 14±7 electrodes. The spatial features of the electrical activity of each RGC greatly facilitated spike sorting. We were thus able to localize, identify and record from defined RGCs within a region of mouse retina. In addition, we stimulated and recorded from genetically modified RGCs to demonstrate the applicability of optogenetic methods, which introduces an additional feature to target a defined cell type. The developed methodologies can likewise be applied to other neuronal preparations including brain slices or cultured neurons.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>Glaucoma is characterized by retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death and frequently associated with elevated IOP. How RGCs degenerate before death is little understood, so we sought to investigate RGC degeneration in a mouse model of ocular hypertension.<h4>Methods</h4>A laser-induced mouse model of chronic ocular hypertension mimicked human high-tension glaucoma. Immunohistochemistry was used to characterize overall RGC loss and an optomotor behavioral test to measure corresponding changes in visual capacity. Changes in RGC functional properties were characterized by a large-scale multielectrode array (MEA). The transgenic Thy-1-YFP mouse line, in which a small number of RGCs are labeled with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), permitted investigation of whether subtypes of RGCs or RGCs from particular retinal areas were differentially vulnerable to elevated IOP.<h4>Results</h4>Sustained IOP elevation in mice was achieved by laser photocoagulation. We confirmed RGC loss and decreased visual acuity in ocular hypertensive mice. Furthermore, these mice had fewer visually responsive cells with smaller receptive field sizes compared to controls. We demonstrated that RGC dendritic shrinkage started from the vertical axis of hypertensive eyes and that mono-laminated ON cells were more susceptible to IOP elevation than bi-laminated ON-OFF cells. Moreover, a subgroup of ON RGCs labeled by the SMI-32 antibody exhibited significant dendritic atrophy in the superior quadrant of the hypertensive eyes.<h4>Conclusions</h4>RGC degeneration depends on subtype and location in hypertensive eyes. This study introduces a valuable model to investigate how the structural and functional degeneration of RGCs leads to visual impairments.
Project description:In the visual system, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) of various subtypes encode preprocessed photoreceptor signals into a spike output which is then transmitted towards the brain through parallel feature pathways. Spike timing determines how each feature signal contributes to the output of downstream neurons in visual brain centers, thereby influencing efficiency in visual perception. In this study, we demonstrate a marked population-wide variability in RGC response latency that is independent of trial-to-trial variability and recording approach. RGC response latencies to simple visual stimuli vary considerably in a heterogenous cell population but remain reliable when RGCs of a single subtype are compared. This subtype specificity, however, vanishes when the retinal circuitry is bypassed via direct RGC electrical stimulation. This suggests that latency is primarily determined by the signaling speed through retinal pathways that provide subtype specific inputs to RGCs. In addition, response latency is significantly altered when GABA inhibition or gap junction signaling is disturbed, which further supports the key role of retinal microcircuits in latency tuning. Finally, modulation of stimulus parameters affects individual RGC response delays considerably. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that retinal microcircuits fine-tune RGC response latency, which in turn determines the context-dependent weighing of each signal and its contribution to visual perception.
Project description:Background: Significant progress toward the recovery of useful vision in blind patients with severe degenerative retinal diseases caused by photoreceptor death has been achieved with the development of visual prostheses that stimulate the retina electrically. However, currently used prostheses do not provide feedback about the retinal activity before and upon stimulation and do not adjust to changes during the remodeling processes in the retina. Both features are desirable to improve the efficiency of the electrical stimulation (ES) therapy offered by these devices. Accordingly, devices that not only enable ES but at the same time provide information about the retinal activity are beneficial. Given the above, a bidirectional communication strategy, in which inner retinal cells are stimulated and the output neurons of the retina, the ganglion cells, are recorded using penetrating microelectrode arrays (MEAs) is proposed. Methods: Custom-made penetrating MEAs with four silicon-based shanks, each one with three or four iridium oxide electrodes specifically designed to match retinal dimensions were used to record the activity of light-adapted wildtype mice retinas and degenerated retinas from rd10 mice in vitro. In addition, responses to high potassium concentration and to light stimulation in wildtype retinas were examined. Furthermore, voltage-controlled ES was performed. Results: The spiking activity of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) was recorded at different depths of penetration inside the retina. Physiological responses during an increase of the extracellular potassium concentration and phasic and tonic responses during light stimulation were captured. Moreover, pathologic rhythmic activity was recorded from degenerated retinas. Finally, ES of the inner retina and simultaneous recording of the activity of RGCs was accomplished. Conclusion: The access to different layers of the retina with penetrating electrodes while recording at the same time the spiking activity of RGCs broadens the use and the field of action of multi-shank and multi-site penetrating MEAs for retinal applications. It enables a bidirectional strategy to stimulate inner retinal cells electrically and to record from the spiking RGCs simultaneously (BiMEA). This opens the possibility of a feedback loop system to acknowledge the success of ES carried out by retinal prostheses.
Project description:Retinal organoids are three-dimensional structures derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) which recapitulate the spatial and temporal differentiation of the retina, serving as effective in vitro models of retinal development. However, a lack of emphasis has been placed upon the development and organization of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) within retinal organoids. Thus, initial efforts were made to characterize RGC differentiation throughout early stages of organoid development, with a clearly defined RGC layer developing in a temporally-appropriate manner expressing a complement of RGC-associated markers. Beyond studies of RGC development, retinal organoids may also prove useful for cellular replacement in which extensive axonal outgrowth is necessary to reach post-synaptic targets. Organoid-derived RGCs could help to elucidate factors promoting axonal outgrowth, thereby identifying approaches to circumvent a formidable obstacle to RGC replacement. As such, additional efforts demonstrated significant enhancement of neurite outgrowth through modulation of both substrate composition and growth factor signaling. Additionally, organoid-derived RGCs exhibited diverse phenotypes, extending elaborate growth cones and expressing numerous guidance receptors. Collectively, these results establish retinal organoids as a valuable tool for studies of RGC development, and demonstrate the utility of organoid-derived RGCs as an effective platform to study factors influencing neurite outgrowth from organoid-derived RGCs.
Project description:In this report, we describe the system integration of a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit (IC) chip, capable of both stimulation and recording of neurons or neural tissues, to investigate electrical signal propagation within cellular networks in vitro. The overall system consisted of three major subunits: a 5.0 × 5.0 mm CMOS IC chip, a reconfigurable logic device (field-programmable gate array, FPGA), and a PC. To test the system, microelectrode arrays (MEAs) were used to extracellularly measure the activity of cultured rat cortical neurons and mouse cortical slices. The MEA had 64 bidirectional (stimulation and recording) electrodes. In addition, the CMOS IC chip was equipped with dedicated analog filters, amplification stages, and a stimulation buffer. Signals from the electrodes were sampled at 15.6 kHz with 16-bit resolution. The measured input-referred circuitry noise was 10.1 ? V root mean square (10 Hz to 100 kHz), which allowed reliable detection of neural signals ranging from several millivolts down to approximately 33 ? Vpp. Experiments were performed involving the stimulation of neurons with several spatiotemporal patterns and the recording of the triggered activity. An advantage over current MEAs, as demonstrated by our experiments, includes the ability to stimulate (voltage stimulation, 5-bit resolution) spatiotemporal patterns in arbitrary subsets of electrodes. Furthermore, the fast stimulation reset mechanism allowed us to record neuronal signals from a stimulating electrode around 3 ms after stimulation. We demonstrate that the system can be directly applied to, for example, auditory neural prostheses in conjunction with an acoustic sensor and a sound processing system.
Project description:Intra-retinal placement of stimulating electrodes can provide close and stable proximity to target neurons. We assessed improvement in stimulation thresholds and selectivity of the direct and network-mediated retinal stimulation with intraretinal electrodes, compared to epiretinal and subretinal placements.Stimulation thresholds of the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in wild-type rat retina were measured using the patch-clamp technique. Direct and network-mediated responses were discriminated using various synaptic blockers.Three types of RGC responses were identified: short latency (SL, ? < 5 ms) originating in RGCs, medium latency (ML, 3 < ? < 70 ms) originating in the inner nuclear layer and long latency (LL, ? > 40 ms) originating in photoreceptors. Cathodic epiretinal stimulation exhibited the lowest threshold for direct RGC response and the highest direct selectivity (network/direct thresholds ratio), exceeding a factor of 3 with pulse durations below 0.5 ms. For network-mediated stimulation, the lowest threshold was obtained with anodic pulses in OPL position, and its network selectivity (direct/network thresholds ratio) increased with pulse duration, exceeding a factor of 4 at 10 ms. Latency of all three types of responses decreased with increasing strength of the stimulus.These results define the optimal range of pulse durations, pulse polarities and electrode placement for the retinal prostheses aiming at direct or network-mediated stimulation of RGCs.
Project description:The choice of electrode material is of paramount importance in neural prosthetic devices. Electrodes must be biocompatible yet able to sustain repetitive current injections in a highly corrosive environment. We explored the suitability of carbon nanotube (CNT) electrodes to stimulate retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in a mouse model of outer retinal degeneration. We investigated morphological changes at the bio-hybrid interface and changes in RGC responses to electrical stimulation following prolonged in vitro coupling to CNT electrodes. We observed gradual remodelling of the inner retina to incorporate CNT assemblies. Electrophysiological recordings demonstrate a progressive increase in coupling between RGCs and the CNT electrodes over three days, characterized by a gradual decrease in stimulation thresholds and increase in cellular recruitment. These results provide novel evidence for time-dependent formation of viable bio-hybrids between CNTs and the retina, demonstrating that CNTs are a promising material for inclusion in retinal prosthetic devices.
Project description:Purpose:As an active component in wolfberry, lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) are capable of protecting retinal neurons in several animal disease models. Here, we asked whether LBP rescues the retinal morphology and function in rd1 mouse, a photoreceptor fast-degenerating animal model of retinitis pigmentosa, and in particular focused on LBP's effects on the function of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) during photoreceptor degeneration. Methods:An equal volume of LBP or control vehicle was daily intraperitoneal (i.p.) injected in rd1 mice from postnatal day 4 (P4) to P14, P20, or P24 when photoreceptors completely degenerate. Immunostaining, electroretinogram (ERG), visual behavior tests and multielectrode array (MEA) recordings were assessed to determine the structure and function of the treated retina. Results:LBP treatment greatly promoted photoreceptor survival, enhanced ERG responses, and improved visual behaviors in rd1 mice. MEA data showed that LBP treatment in general decreased the abnormally high spontaneous spiking that occurs in rd1 mice, and increased the percentage of light-responsive RGCs as well as their light-evoked response, light sensitivity, signal-to-noise ratio, and response speed. Interestingly, LBP treatment affected ON and OFF responses differently. Conclusions:LBP improves retinal morphology and function in rd1 mice, and delays the functional decay of RGCs during photoreceptor degeneration. This is the first study that has examined in detail the effects of LBP on RGC responses. Our data suggest that LBP may help extend the effective time window before more invasive RP therapeutic approaches such as retinoprosthesis are applied.
Project description:Purpose:To investigate the possible role of activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) neuroprotection and optic nerve regeneration after optic nerve crush (ONC). Methods:Overexpression of proteins of interest (ATF3, phosphatase and tensin homolog [PTEN], placental alkaline phosphatase, green fluorescent protein) in the retina was achieved by intravitreal injections of recombinant adenovirus-associated viruses (rAAVs) expressing corresponding proteins. The number of RGCs and ?RGCs was evaluated by immunostaining retinal sections and whole-mount retinas with antibodies against RNA binding protein with multiple splicing (RBPMS) and osteopontin, respectively. Axonal regeneration was assessed via fluorophore-coupled cholera toxin subunit B labeling. RGC function was evaluated by recording positive scotopic threshold response. Results:The level of ATF3 is preferentially elevated in osteopontin+/RBPMS+ ?RGCs following ONC. Overexpression of ATF3 by intravitreal injection of rAAV 2 weeks before ONC promoted RBPMS+ RGC survival and preserved RGC function as assessed by positive scotopic threshold response recordings 2 weeks after ONC. However, overexpression of ATF3 and simultaneous downregulation of PTEN, a negative regulator of the mTOR pathway, combined with ONC, only moderately promoted short distance RGC axon regeneration (200 ?m from the lesion site) but did not provide additional RGC neuroprotection compared with PTEN downregulation alone. Conclusions:These results reveal a neuroprotective effect of ATF3 in the retina following injury and identify ATF3 as a promising agent for potential treatments of optic neuropathies.
Project description:Glaucoma is a group of progressive optic neuropathies that share common biological and clinical characteristics including irreversible changes to the optic nerve and visual field loss caused by the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The loss of RGCs manifests as characteristic cupping or optic nerve degeneration, resulting in visual field loss in patients with Glaucoma. Published studies on in vitro RGC differentiation from stem cells utilized classical RGC signaling pathways mimicking retinal development in vivo. Although many strategies allowed for the generation of RGCs, increased variability between experiments and lower yield hampered the cross comparison between individual lines and between experiments. To address this critical need, we developed a reproducible chemically defined in vitro methodology for generating retinal progenitor cell (RPC) populations from iPSCs, that are efficiently directed towards RGC lineage. Using this method, we reproducibly differentiated iPSCs into RGCs with greater than 80% purity, without any genetic modifications. We used small molecules and peptide modulators to inhibit BMP, TGF-? (SMAD), and canonical Wnt pathways that reduced variability between iPSC lines and yielded functional and mature iPSC-RGCs. Using CD90.2 antibody and Magnetic Activated Cell Sorter (MACS) technique, we successfully purified Thy-1 positive RGCs with nearly 95% purity.