Amino acid analysis using high-performance liquid chromatography demonstrated high levels of the excitatory amino acids, aspartate and glutamate, in the retinas of congenitally blind chicks at the time of photoreceptor degeneration. Concentrations of aspartate were about 2 times higher in blind chicks than in retinas of age-matched sighted chicks that were carriers for the genetic defect. Glutamate levels were similar in blind chicks and carriers at 1 day of age, but doubled and tripled sighted chick values at 1 week and 2 weeks of age in blind chick retinas. Light microscopic immunocytochemistry using antibodies that recognize aspartate and glutamate revealed increased levels of these two amino acids specifically in the photoreceptor layer of blind chicks. This report is the first to demonstrate high endogenous levels of excitatory amino acids associated with a hereditary degeneration of photoreceptor cells.
- Congenital blindness
- Excitatory amino acid
- Hereditary retinal degeneration