Retinal Ganglion Cells-Diversity of Cell Types and Clinical Relevance.
Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are the bridging neurons that connect the retinal input to the visual processing centres within the central nervous system. There is a remarkable diversity of RGCs and the various subtypes have unique morphological features, distinct functions, and characteristic pathways linking the inner retina to the relevant brain areas. A number of psychophysical and electrophysiological tests have been refined to investigate this large and varied population of RGCs. Technological advances, such as high-resolution optical coherence tomography imaging, have provided additional tools to define the pattern of RGC involvement and the chronological sequence of events in both inherited and acquired optic neuropathies. The mechanistic insights gained from these studies, in particular the selective vulnerability and relative resilience of particular RGC subtypes, are of fundamental importance as they are directly relevant to the development of targeted therapies for these invariably progressive blinding diseases. This review provides a comprehensive description of the various types of RGCs, the developments in proposed methods of classification, and the current gaps in our knowledge of how these RGCs are differentially affected depending on the underlying aetiology. The synthesis of the current body of knowledge on the diversity of RGCs and the pathways that are potentially amenable to therapeutic modulation will hopefully lead to much needed effective treatments for patients with optic neuropathies.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/S000623/1)