Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Hope For Preventing Major Problems Of The Retina


Study findings may offer prevention for avoiding those annoying spots caused by macular degeneration

The primary function of the retina is to capture light and initiate neural signals. The retina contains the photoreceptors, which are the site of sensory transduction in the visual pathway. Major landmarks in the retina are the fovea and macula, where light has a direct pathway to the receptors. An interruption of the blood supply to these landmarks can lead to age-related macular degeneration and diabetes, the cause of severe visual problems.

Dopamine is an intermediate in tyrosine metabolism and precursor of norepinephrine and epinephrine; it accounts for 90 percent of the catecholamines; its presence in the central nervous system and localization in the basal ganglia (caudate and lentiform nuclei) suggest that dopamine may have other functions. Now a new research study reveals that the body’s dopaminergic system plays a role in the regulation of retinal blood flow in the body. In addition, their data presents evidence for an the diminishing effect of dopamine on the pathways coupling sensory input to vascular response.

Dopaminergic functions in the eye are complex and affect several ocular tissues. These include transmitter effects and impacts on intraocular (within the eyeball) pressure (IOP) and ocular blood flow. It is known from several tissues that vascular effects of dopamine are not only mediated via specific dopamine receptors but also by influencing other effector pathways like catecholamine receptors, a major responder to stress.

Vascular dopaminergic effects in the eye in past studies have revealed that dopamine antagonists (domperidone and haloperidol) increase ocular blood flow in rabbits. Other dopamine antagonists had similar effects, whereas dopamine agonists did not affect beating ocular blood flow. Dopamine has been investigated extensively in glaucoma research. One previous effort found that D1 agonists (when combined with receptors initiate drug action) increase pressure within the eye, where D1 antagonists decrease IOP; D2 agents have opposite effects. Dopamine also has an important role in sensory processing. As a neurotransmitter, it is involved in regulating the rod pathway. However, dopamine actions are not restricted to the transmission of nerve impulses. It is also used as a neuromodulator distributed diffusely in the outer retina during light adaptation. The modulatory functions include horizontal cell and photoreceptor coupling to change the receptive field organization. A direct connection exists between sensory input and retinal blood flow. Diffuse luminance flicker stimuli increase retinal vessel diameter in humans. However, the how this pathway works is still elusive.

A New Study

A new study examines the effect of dopamine on retinal vessel diameters and its modulatory effect on flicker-induced vasodilatation, or widening of the vessel’s tubes. Local retinal vascular effects were studied in healthy human subjects after intravenous administration of dopamine. The authors of the study, “Effects of Dopamine on Human Retinal Vessel Diameter and its Modulation During Flicker Stimulation,” are Karl-Heinz Huemer, Gerhard Garhöfer, Claudia Zawinka, Elisabeth Golestani, Brigitte Litschauer, Leopold Schmetterer, and Guido T. Dorner, all from the University of Vienna Medical School, Vienna, Austria. Their findings appear in the January 2003 edition of the American Journal of Physiology—Heart and Circulatory Physiology.


The research entailed a randomized, subject-blinded, placebo and time-controlled, two-way crossover study in 12 healthy male subjects. Placebo or dopamine was administered on two separate study days. After saline infusion, dopamine hydrochloride was infused in three consecutive doses. Plasma levels of dopamine were determined at each perfusion step. Arterial and venous retinal vessel diameters were measured with the use of a Zeiss retinal vessel analyzer. Diffuse luminance flicker stimuli of eight Hz were applied for 60 seconds. Blood pressure and pulse rate were monitored.


Flicker stimulation (8 Hz) increased retinal vessel diameters under basal conditions. The response to 8-Hz flicker light was significantly reduced by dopamine administration. In addition, dopamine slightly but significantly increased retinal vessel diameters. Dopamine hydrochloride significantly increased systolic but not diastolic or mean arterial pressure.

For the first time, evidence exists displaying the for dopaminergic effects on retinal vessels in humans. This indicates that the dopaminergic system plays a role in the regulation of retinal blood flow in vivo. In addition, their data present evidence for an attenuating effect of dopamine on the pathways coupling sensory input to vascular response. The results also reveal that dopamine significantly increases vessel diameters of retinal arteries and veins in a dose-dependent manner. Their finding is that dopamine increases retinal vessel diameters in vivo is an indicator that dopamine probably has a local effect on retinal vessels (also supported by data showing a high density of D1 receptor antibodies in rabbit retinal vessels).


This study finds reveals that flicker response in both retinal arteries and veins is diminished by dopamine. Although this indicates a role of dopamine in the regulation of retinal vascular tone, it does not necessarily prove a crucial role of dopamine in the neuronal pathway regulating this neurovascular response. Their data are, however, compatible with results from many studies showing dopamine release during light-to-dark transitions and during photic stimulation.

On the basis of these previous data, the researchers hypothesize that dopamine increases during flicker-stimulation in the present experiments. Consequently, exogenous administration of dopamine blunts flicker-induced vasodilatation because vessels are already predilated via the dopamine pathway. In conclusion, their data indicate a dopaminergic contribution to retinal vascular tone in the human retina.

Dopamine appears to play a role in flicker-induced vasodilatation. This could implicate possible roles of dopaminergic agents in alleviating the reduction of blood to the retina, thereby saving thousands of Americans from future vision problems.

Source: January 2003 edition of the American Journal of Physiology—Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

The American Physiological Society (APS) was founded in 1887 to foster basic and applied science, much of it relating to human health. The Bethesda, MD-based Society has more than 10,000 members and publishes 3,800 articles in its 14 peer-reviewed journals every year.

Contact: Donna Krupa: 703.527.7357
Cell: 703.967.2751 or

Donna Krupa | The American Physiological Socie

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>