98th Annual Meeting DOG 2000

R 438

Animal models in ophthalmogenetics: Why do we need them?

E. Zrenner, G. Jaissle, M. Seeliger

Research in many hereditary eye diseases has been boosted by the availability of transgenic animals carrying genetic defects homologous to human disorders. Main advantages of animal models with regard to the understanding of pathophysiological processes are 1) the fast time course of changes that can take several decades to develop in human patients, 2) the defined genotype and background that allows for a refined statistical analysis of changes and treatment effects, 3) the possibility to obtain functional, biochemical, and morphological data in all phases of the disease sequence, and 4) the detailed, time-efficient analysis of treatment strategies. To be able to use the full potential of these models, it is important to have well-developed techniques for the assessment of function and morphology. Such methods are electroretinography (ERG), conventional and scanning-laser fundus imaging (ophthalmoscopy), histology and associated methods, and biochemical tests. There are certainly limitations to study human diseases in animals as, for example, structure and function of rodent eyes differ from human (e.g. there is no macula), and the expression of genes may also be different. However, there are only a few mutant models for ophthalmic diseases available in higher mammals, and these do usually not have all of the advantages listed above.

The chances and limitations will be demonstrated along the data on several mouse models of hereditary retinal degenerations.

University Eye Hospital, Dept. II, Schleichstr. 12-16, D-72076 Tübingen
Supported by the DFG (SFB 430, project C2), and fortuene grant # 517