Retinopathy associated with enterococcus enteropathy in the neonatal rat

Shuichen Zhang, David A. Leske, James R. Uhl, Franklin R. Cockerill, William L. Lanier, Jonathan M. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Preretinal neovascularization has been previously observed in neonatal rats with spontaneously occurring diarrhea. This neovascularization appears analogous to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which occurs in human neonates. A new enterococcus species, designated Enterococcus rattus, has been isolated from the duodenum of these rats. In the present controlled study, the effect of the enteropathy induced by this organism on the retinal vasculature in the neonatal rat was further investigated. METHODS. One hundred fifty newborn Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to 6 expanded litters (n = 25). On the second day of life, animals were gavaged with either 100 μl of E. rattus suspension (1.0 X 107 colony forming units, inoculated group, n = 100 rats) or 100 μl saline (control group, n = 50 rats). All rats were raised in room air and were killed on day 13 of life. Duodenal and blood samples were cultured. The retinal vasculature was assessed using fluorescent microscopy and ADPase staining in a masked manner. Two additional inoculated litters and one control litter were studied for evaluation of arterial blood gases and validation of the grading method for preretinal neovascularization. RESULTS. One hundred percent of rats in the inoculated group developed severe diarrhea and had duodenal cultures positive for E. rattus compared with 0% in the control group. Preretinal neovascularization similar to ROP occurred in 55% of rats in the inoculated group compared with 2% in the control group (P = 0.001). Retinal vascular areas were reduced in the inoculated group (mean ± SD, 89% ± 5% versus 96% ± 2%; P < 0.001). Rats in the inoculated group demonstrated severe growth retardation (final weight, 9.7 ± 2.2 versus 16.7 ± 2.7 g, P < 0.001). Inoculated animals also experienced acidosis (pH 7.31 ± 0.06 versus 7.39 ± 0.06 control, P = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS. A previously undescribed enterococcal enteropathy was associated with preretinal neovascularization similar to ROP in the neonatal rat. This supports an independent role for factors other than inspired oxygen in the development of ROP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1305-1309
Number of pages5
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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