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Identification of ganglion cell neurites in human subretinal and epiretinal membranes


Aim: To determine whether neural elements are present in subretinal and epiretinal proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) membranes as well as in diabetic, fibrovascular membranes removed from patients during vitrectomy surgery.

Methods: Human subretinal and epiretinal membranes of varying durations were immunolabelled with different combinations of antibodies to glial fibrillary acidic protein, vimentin, neurofilament protein and laminin.

Results: Anti-neurofilament-labelled neurites from presumptive ganglion cells were frequently found in epiretinal membranes and occasionally found in subretinal membranes. In addition, the neurites were only observed in regions that also contained glial processes.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that neuronal processes are commonly found in human peri-retinal cellular membranes similar to that demonstrated in animal models. These data also suggest that glial cells growing out of the neural retina form a permissive substrate for neurite growth and thus may hold clues to factors that support this growth.

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