Phagocytosis in the retinal pigment epithelium of the RCS rat

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Science  15 Sep 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4360, pp. 1023-1025
DOI: 10.1126/science.567376


The retinal pigment epithelium of RCS rats, previously thought not to phagocytize photoreceptor outer segments, exhibited a peak of phagocytosis in vivo when animals were kept under conditions of cyclic lighting (12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light). The peak occurred at 1 hour after the onset of light, with maximum and minimum levels of phagocytosis averaging about 5 percent of that found in the pigment epithelium of Osborn-Mendel rats used as a control. Eyecups that were obtained from Osborn-Mendel rats and maintained for up to 3 hours in organ culture demonstrated levels of phagocytosis that were sevenfold greater than those of unincubated controls. Likewise a tenfold increase occurred in incubated as opposed to unicubated RCS eyes, raising the possibility that phagocytosis could be experimentally stimulated in vivo.