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Date of Award

Fall 12-6-2018

Thesis Access

WSU Access Only Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Anatomy and Cell Biology

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Ryan Thummel, Ph.D.


Many structural, functional and developmental similarities exist between zebrafish and human retinas, providing researchers with an excellent model to study human vision. Damage in mammals usually induces a scar-like response initiated by Müller glia, which aid in healing the affected area, but can prevent cells from returning to their original capabilities. In contrast, Müller glia in the zebrafish retina possess stem cell properties that allow them to respond differently to retinal damage. Specifically, zebrafish Müller glia proliferate to produce large numbers of retinal progenitor cells that ultimately replace lost retinal neurons and allow for full restoration to visual function. This remarkable regeneration event has been extensively studied as a reaction to various acute and severe damage events, such as exposure to high-intensity light. However, these damage paradigms fail to model most cases of retinal disease in humans, such as macular degeneration, which result in a slow loss of retinal neurons and vision. Therefore, the goal of this work was to develop a chronic low light-damage model in zebrafish in order to compare the stem cell response of resident Müller glial cells to that of an established, more acute, high intensity light-damage model. This research adds to the growing body of work aimed at elucidating how adult zebrafish can regenerate their retinas following damage and has the long-term goal of generating new therapies and approaches to treat retinal pathology in human retinal degenerative diseases.

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