Müller cells – which support the retina's neurons – protect the macula from oxidative damage
The eye’s light sensing retina has two distinct regions – the macula, home to neurons that give us detailed sight, and the periphery for side and night vision. Compared to the peripheral retina, the macula is more susceptible to conditions like diabetic retinopathy, and uniquely to age-related macular degeneration, two of the most common causes of vision loss worldwide. Scientists recently looked to the retina’s Müller cells to explain this vulnerability. Found in both the macula and periphery, Müller cells help maintain a stable and functional environment for retinal neurons. The team found that several molecular functions were more active in Müller cells in the human macula (pictured, two cross-sections stained for different Müller cell markers) compared to the periphery. These particular functions are thought to defend the macula from oxidative stress, which could make this sensitive area more susceptible to vision loss. Digging further into Müller cells’ protective role could uncover new treatments for blinding diseases.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.