Located in the back of the eye, the blood-retinal barrier regulates the flow of nutrients into light-sensing tissue. Researchers in NIBR’s Ophthalmology group study how this barrier functions in development and in health, and how it breaks down in major eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Unlike humans, mice are born without the barrier, and scientists can watch it assemble during the first few weeks of their lives. The blood vessels grow in along networks of astrocytes—the neural supporting cells that provide the vessels with metabolic information. Vascular supporting cells called pericytes are recruited later.
This image shows the retinal blood vessels (green) spreading out radially from the optic nerve of a mouse eye. Pericytes appear in red and astrocytes in blue.