Genetic variation in the retinal vasculature of the collaborative cross

Document Type

Journal Article


Scientia Ricerca


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Morahan, G. (2017). Genetic Variation in the Retinal Vasculature of the Collaborative Cross. Ophthalmology and Vision Sci-ence, 1, 36-45. Available here


Purpose: Examination of the vessels of the retina provides an insight into the health of the eye. Variation in the number of major retinal blood vessels may indicate development of various diseases. Identification of mouse strains with a varied number of vessels will be useful to understand the genetic basis for, and the physiological consequences of, such variation. We therefore analyzed variation in retinal vasculature among strains of the next-generation genetic resource, The Collaborative Cross (CC).

Methods: The retinal vasculature from both flat mounted whole-retina and histology sections were examined in our panel of CC and common inbred mouse strains, to characterize the vascular pattern. In the course of this work, we optimized the trypsin digest method for examination of fragile retinal samples. We describe our optimized method, providing a step-by-step protocol and list of specific tools to isolate the vascular network.

Results: The CC strains showed wide variation in numbers of the major retinal arteries and veins. One strain had only a single capillary network. Our modified method was able to isolate the retinal vasculature successfully and was particularly suited to strains with minimal neural structure.

Conclusions: Different retinal anatomy, with wide variation in the numbers of retinal arteries and veins was observed and could be explained by genetic variation. Our optimized trypsin digest method can be applied to study ocular vasculature pathology in any retinal disease in humans or animal models

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