Our Lab’s latest publication: Norrin treatment testing for survival of optic nerve cells.

Norrin treatment improves ganglion cell survival in an oxygen-induced retinopathy model of retinal ischemia.  In Experimental Eye Research (2017), accepted, in press.



• Norrin treatment accelerates recovery of the mouse OIR model from ischemic insult.
• SD-OCT can compare NFL/GCL (nerve fiber layer/ganglion cell layer) thickness in vivo.
• Norrin treatment counters thinning of the NFL/GCL in the mouse OIR model.
• Norrin treatment increases the surviving population density of RGCs in OIR retinas.

This paper is one of the first to use the in vivo imaging methods of intrinsic fluorescence with a transgenic mouse strain to see individual ganglion cells in the living mouse eye, and to even follow their morphology over a period of many days in the mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. This was done with a Phoenix Research Labs‘ system, in this case the Micron-III version of their imaging system. We used a light filter set recommended by Phoenix to image yellow-fluorescent protein (YFP). Axons and dentrites could be seen on single cells in anesthetized mice. Amazing!

We also employed SD-OCT (Spectral Domain – Optical Coherence Tomography) to capture 3D structural records of the mouse retina and then to measure the changes in thickness of the very thin Nerve Fiber Layer / Ganglion Cell Layer (NFL/GCL).

The ability to use these imaging systems in vivo, which are also used in clinical analysis of the Human retina, enables us to see disease processes as they progress and to use far fewer mice to get the answers to research questions. In this case we were testing the ability of Norrin (Norrie’s Disease Protein) to be used to help avascular regions of retina recover their vasculature more quickly and improve the survival of RGCs (retinal ganglion cells) from the stress of low oxygen. RGCs are the cells that form our optic nerves. Millions of RGCs per eye have axons that extend all the way into connections with our brain. This bundle of a million “wires”, or axons, is the optic nerve.

Our research here and that of other laboratories suggest that Norrin and other agents might have use to maintain a better vasculature in diseases where the blood vessels and capillaries are damaged, such as ROP, Diabetic Retinopathy and AMD.


#ARVO2015 Conference Panorama


#ARVO2015 World largest vision research meeting. Representing Oakland ERI.

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

The 2015 meeting was held in the Colorado Convention Center, Denver CO

Panorama pictures captured using my Android phone (LG).

Our poster on VEGFA-165 b-isoform biochemistry got lots of attention in there.

The Poster hall at #ARVO2015 meeting. About 800 posters each day from Sunday to Thursday, May 3-7, 2015.

The Poster hall at #ARVO2015 meeting. About 800 posters each day from Sunday to Thursday, May 3-7, 2015.

@VRRF_org @ARVO @Oakland_U Look at the size of this Grizz!

Ken Mitton, PhD, FARVO

Review Paper in the journal Heredity: Epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in vertebrate eye development and disease.

Epigenetic regulation is an additional layer of control on top of our actual raw genomic DNA sequence. Basically, this means that without actually changing or mutating the DNA sequence of a gene, it is possible for that gene to be expressed differently. This extra later of control is often through changing how the DNA is packaged away in chromatin. Chromatin refers to how our chromosomal DNA is really organized. That is, DNA wrapped around cores of nucleosome core proteins, called histone proteins. The cytosines in our DNA can be methylated (addition of methyl groups), and histone proteins can be acetylated (addition of acetyl groups), and these chemical modifications control how our chromatin is packed away in our cells. Tightly packed away, genes are dormant, off, away in the closet like winter clothes you are not using in summer time. Active genes, are out of storage, unpacked and ready to work. In this review paper Alex Cvekl, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Bronx, NY) and I put together a detailed review on what we know so far about the roles of epigenetic regulation in vertebrate eye development and disease. Continue reading