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Colorful insights into the retina

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When researchers and doctors have their eyes on the retina, they may be looking for signs of disease.

Changes in the retina's blood vessels can signal the onset of diseases like diabetes, which is also one of the leading causes of blindness. During diabetes, blood vessels throughout the retina may be damaged or blocked, preventing blood from reaching small patches of the retina. This disease is known as diabetic retinopathy.

In the fluorescence microscope images below, the colors indicate glial cells (red) and the protein synaptophysin (green) in the normal retina. Glial cells are present in blood vessels. During disease, the protein levels of both glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and synaptophysin may be altered.

The three images are fluorescence microscope images of formalin fixed paraffin embedded human retina, stained for GFAP (red fluorescence), Synaptophysin (green fluorescence) and DAPI (blue nuclear fluorescence). Staining was done to demonstrate glial cells and synaptophysin in normal retina.

Birgit Reinert

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