Carbon dioxide-induced retinopathy in the neonatal rat

Jonathan M. Holmes, Shuichen Zhang, David A. Leske, William L. Lanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Purpose. Hypercarbia has been suggested as a risk factor for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). We investigated the effect of hypercarbia on the retinal vasculature of the neonatal rat to determine whether hypercarbia alone could induce preretinal neovascularization analogous to ROP. Methods. In a preliminary blood gas study, 8-11-day-old rats were exposed to specific levels of inspired O2 and either 0.2% CO2 or 10% CO2. Arterial blood gases were obtained, and a level of inspired O2 was determined that, when combined with inspired 10% CO2 would produce a PaO2 equivalent to room air (pure hypercarbia). In the formal retinopathy study, 300 newborn rats raised in 12 expanded litters (n = 25 each) were exposed for 7 days to either room air, 10% CO2 in 21% O2 and nitrogen (high-inspired CO2 group) or 10% CO2 in 12.5% O2 and nitrogen (pure-hypercarbia group). Each type of exposure was followed by recovery in room air for 5 days. Animals were sacrificed on day 13 and retinae were analyzed, using fluores cein perfusion and ADPase staining techniques. Results. Neovascularization occurred in 19% of rats in the high-inspired CO2 group, and 14% of rats in the pure-hypercarbia group, compared to 0% of rats exposed to room air alone (p = 0.001, Chi square). Conclusions. In the neonatal rat model, exposure to hypercarbia alone, followed by room air recovery, results in preretinal neovascularization similar to that seen in oxygen-induced retinopathy. Our results support the suggestion that hypercarbia may be a risk factor for retinopathy of prematurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-616
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Hypercarbia
  • Oxygen-induced retinopathy
  • Rat
  • Retinopathy of prematurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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