PURPOSE. Gamma irradiation and bone marrow transplantation (BMT) are established clinical procedures for the treatment of hematologic malignancies. The radiation targets cells in the bone marrow, but injury to other tissues, including the central nervous system (CNS), have been reported. Here, we examine if anti-inflammatory treatment can mitigate the radiation-induced turnover of retinal microglia and the replacement by bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs). METHODS. Two-color chimeric mice were generated by lethal irradiation of heterozygous CX3CR1-GFP mice that express GFP in microglial cells and bone marrow transplantation from universal DsRed donor mice. Mice were treated with the corticosteroid dexamethasone; a control group received no dexamethasone treatment. The populations of resident microglia (GFP+) and BMDCs (DsRed+) were quantified by serial in vivo imaging for 10 weeks after irradiation with a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope that we custom-built specifically for multicolor imaging of the murine retina. RESULTS. Ionizing radiation resulted in loss of 75% of the resident retinal microglia population after 70 days. Recruitment of BMDCs was delayed with respect to the microglia loss, resulting in a transient depletion of the total immune cell number in the retina. With dexamethasone treatment, both the loss of the resident microglia and the infiltration of BMDCs were suppressed by at least 50%. CONCLUSIONS. Anti-inflammatory treatment with the corticosteroidal agent dexamethasone preserves resident microglia and minimizes recruitment of BMDCs after ionizing radiation exposure and BMT.
Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 2014, Vol 55, Issue 8, p. 5314-5319