Extracting the ON and OFF contributions to the full-field photopic flash electroretinogram using summed growth curves

Date Published:

2019 Dec


Under cone-mediated (photopic) conditions, an "instantaneous" flash of light, including both stimulus onset and offset, will simultaneously activate both "ON" and "OFF" bipolar cells, which either depolarize (ON) or hyperpolarize (OFF) in response and, respectively, produce positive-going and negative-going deflections in the electroretinogram (ERG). The stimulus-response (SR) relationship of the photopic ON response demonstrates logistic growth, like that manifested in the rod-mediated (scotopic) b-wave, which is driven by a single class of depolarizing bipolar cell. However, the photopic b-wave SR function is importantly shaped by OFF responses, leading to a "photopic hill." Furthermore, both on and off stimuli elicit activity in both ON and OFF bipolar cells. This has made it difficult to produce meaningful parameters for ready interpretation of the photopic b-wave SR relationship. Therefore, we evaluated whether the sum of sigmoidal SR functions, as descriptors of the depolarizing and hyperpolarizing components of the photopic flash ERG, could be used to elucidate and quantitate the mechanisms that produce the photopic hill. We used a novel fitting routine to optimize a sum of simple sigmoidal curves to SR data in five groups of subjects: Healthy adult, 10-week-old infant, congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB), X-linked juvenile retinoschisis (XJR), and preterm-born, both without and with a history of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Differences in ON and OFF amplitude, sensitivity, and implicit time among the groups were then compared using parameters extracted from these fits. We found that our modeling procedure enabled plausible derivations of ON and OFF pathway contributions to the ERG, and that the parameters produced appeared to have physiological relevance. In adult subjects, the ON and OFF amplitudes were similar in magnitude with respectively longer and shorter implicit times. Infant, CSNB, and XJR subjects showed significant ON pathway deficits. History of preterm-birth, without or with a diagnosis of ROP, did not much affect cone responses.

Last updated on 01/01/2020