Development of the primate area of high acuity. 2. Quantitative morphological changes associated with retinal and pars plana growth
Mechanisms underlying the development of the primate area of high acuity (AHA) remain poorly understood. Finite-element models have identified retinal stretch and intraocular pressure (IOP) as possible mechanical forces that can form a pit (Springer & Hendrickson, 2004). A series of Macaca nemestrina monkey retinas between 68 days postconception (dpc) and adult were used to quantify growth and morphological changes. Retinal and pars plana length, optic disc diameter, disc-pit distance, and inner and outer retinal laminar thickness were measured over development to identify when and where IOP or stretch might operate. Horizontal optic disc diameter increased 500 [mu]m between 115 dpc and 2 months after birth when it reached adult diameter. Disc growth mainly influences the immediate surrounding retina, presumably displacing retinal tissue centrifugally. Pars plana elongation also began at 115 dpc and continued steadily to 3–4 years postnatal, so its influence would be relatively constant over retinal development. Unexpectedly, horizontal retinal length showed nonlinear growth, divided into distinct phases. Retinal length increased rapidly until 115 dpc and then remained unchanged (quiescent phase) between 115–180 dpc. After birth, the retina grew rapidly for 3 months and then very slowly into adulthood. The onset of pit development overlapped the late fetal quiescent phase, suggesting that the major mechanical factor initiating pit formation is IOP, not retinal growth-induced stretch. Developmental changes in the thickness of retinal layers were different for inner and outer retina at many, but not all, of the ten eccentricities examined. Peripheral inner and outer retinal layers thinned appreciably with age, consistent with retinal stretch having a larger effect on the retinal periphery. Central inner retina around the area of high acuity (AHA) changed tri-phasically. It increased in thickness prenatally, thinned transiently after birth, and then resumed thickening. Transient postnatal inner retinal thinning around the pit coincided with the resumption of retinal growth and with cone packing providing evidence that a small amount of growth-induced central retinal stretch may account for cone packing as previously hypothesized (Springer, 1999). Central outer retina around the AHA progressively thickened over the fetal period. It reached asymptotic thickness at birth and continued to thicken into adulthood at some temporal, but not nasal, central eccentricities. These data indicate that peripheral outer and inner retina progressively thin with age because of eye growth-induced stretch, while central retina is minimally affected by stretch. Outer and inner retinal laminar thickness at the same locus can change in different directions, suggesting that they shear with respect to one another. This shearing induces the elongation of Henle axons, while their angle reflects the direction of shear.(Received March 15 2004)
(Accepted June 24 2004)
Key Words: Monkey; Mechanical; Laminar; Thickness; Pars plana; Optic disc; Fovea; Morphology.
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Alan D. Springer Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA., E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org