Phagocytosis of light- and dark-adapted rod outer segments by cultured pigment epithelium

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Science  03 Nov 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4367, pp. 526-528
DOI: 10.1126/science.568310


Pigment epithelial cells in culture retain their ability to phagocytize rod outer segments. These cells phagocytize rod outer segments isolated from light-adapted rats, or from dark-adapted rats killed after the time at which the lights would normally be turned on. However, they phagocytize for fewer rod outer segments prepared in the dark from the retinas of rats killed before the onset of the normal light cycle. Phagocytosis of dark rod outer segments is variable, but that of light outer segments is reproducible. It is postulated that the effect of light is to synchronize the chemical events that occur at the surface of the rods to prepare them for phagocytosis. These processes also occur in the dark, but more slowly and irregularly than in the light.