Measurements of lactate production and ATP concentration in superfused rat retinas were compared with extracellular photoreceptor potentials (Fast PIII). The effect of glucose concentration, oxygen tension, metabolic inhibition, and light were studied. Optimal conditions were achieved with 5-20 mM glucose and oxygen. The isolated retina had a high rate of lactate production and maintained the ATP content of a freshly excised retina, and Fast PIII potentials were similar to in vivo recordings. Small (less than 10%) decreases in aerobic and anaerobic lactate production were observed after illumination of dark-adapted retinas. There were no significant differences in ATP content in dark- and light-adapted retinas. In glucose-free medium, lactate production ceased, and the amplitude of Fast PIII and the level of ATP declined, but the rates of decline were slower in oxygen than in nitrogen. ATP levels were reduced and the amplitude of Fast PIII decreased when respiration was inhibited, and these changes were dependent on glucose concentration. Neither glycolysis alone nor Krebs cycle activity alone maintained the superfused rat retina at an optimal level. Retinal lactate production and utilization of ATP were inhibited by ouabain. Mannose but not galactose or fructose produced lactate and maintained ATP content and Fast PIII. Iodoacetate blocked lactate production and Fast PIII and depleted the retina of ATP. Pyruvate, lactate, and glutamine maintained ATP content and Fast PIII reasonably well (greater than 50%) in the absence of glucose, even in the presence of iodoacetate. addition of glucose, mannose, or 2-deoxyglucose to medium containing pyruvate and iodoacetate abolished Fast PIII and depleted the retina of its ATP. It is suggested that the deleterious effects of these three sugars depend upon their cellular uptake and phosphorylation during the blockade of glycolysis by iodoacetate.

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