Vitamin A Deficiency Effect on Retina: Dependence on Light

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Science  02 Apr 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3978, pp. 72-76
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3978.72


The effects of vitamin A deficiency in the rat eye, as measured by the electroretinogram and changes in rhodopsin content, are critically dependent upon the levels of illumination to which the animals are exposed daily. Depleted animals kept in darkness maintained virtually normal electroretinogram function and rhodopsin content for 5 to 6 months while those kept in weak cyclic light lost rhodopsin continuously. A fraction of the retinol released from rhodopsin during illumination disappears presumably from the pigment epithelium into the blood and becomes unavailable for rhodopsin regeneration. A sequence of three first-order reactions was assumed to estimate the rate constant of this disappearance (0.03 per hour). Computer simulation supporting the experimental data illustrates the dependence of the retinal abnormalities on light.