Vittorio Porciatti, D.Sc.
Prevention of Visual Dysfunction
Visual Neurophysiology, Optic Neuropathies
Death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) is the cause of blindness in glaucoma and of optic nerve diseases. The central idea of Dr. Porciatti’s research is that RGCs undergo a stage of reversible dysfunction before dying. If neuronal dysfunction is detected early, then visual loss can be timely prevented and neural function restored. Dr. Porciatti’s laboratory uses non-invasive electrophysiologic and imaging techniques in human and mouse models to investigate how RGCs become dysfunctional, how and when they become susceptible to stress, and how their function may be improved.
Reversible/preventable dysfunction in glaucoma and optic nerve diseases
The fundamental tool in Dr. Porciatti’s laboratory is the pattern electroretinogram (PERG), which measures non-invasively the electrical activity of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The PERG is used in clinical and experimental models of diseases to 1) detect early RGC dysfunction, 2) monitor its progression, 3) assess susceptibility of RGC function to eye pressure and metabolic stress, 4) assess reversibility of RGC dysfunction after therapy. In combination with imaging, histologic, molecular and genetic approaches, a comprehensive evaluation of RGC function provides critical information on the survival mechanisms of injured RGCs, predicts their lifespan with or without therapeutic intervention, and the time window to rescue dysfunctional RGCs.