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BENEDETTO, M. Mercedes

CONICET PhD fellow
Director: Ana Maria Contín

PhD Thesis Topic

Study of the mechanisms of retinal degeneration caused by constant exposure to low intensity LEDlight
The retina is part of the central nervous system adapted to capture light photons and transmit the information to brain. It has been shown that light in excess may cause retinal degeneration (RD) or accelerate genetic retinal disorders; however, the mechanism of retinal cell death is not well characterized yet.
Previously we showed that constant exposure to 200 lux intensity white LED light, significantly reduces the outer nuclear layer after 5 days of exposure. Death is caspase-3 independent. Rod´s photopigment (Rhodopsin) expression is not altered prior to cell death, but it is more phosphorylated from short stimulation times.
Based on this background; our overall objective is to continue studding the mechanism of RD produced by constant activation of phototransduction mechanism in dim light exposure. Specifically we want to verify the functional state of photoreceptor cells, study what mechanisms are involved in their death and determine whether oxidative stress is involved in the process of death. We will also assess if rhodopsin´s phosphorylation is affected by constant exposure to dim light and together the activity of certain enzymes that phosphorylate and dephosphorylate this photopigment will be determined. Finally we want to study if the mechanism involved in the glutamate release is altered in photoreceptor cells based on the development of DR and whether the number of retinal ganglion cells and the expression and localization of light-sensitive Melanopsin are altered.