High acuity vision is a heavily energy-consuming process, and the retina has developed several unique adaptations to precisely meet such demands while maintaining transparency of the visual axis. Perturbations to this delicate balance cause blinding illnesses, such as diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, the understanding of energy metabolism changes in the retina during disease is imperative to the development of rational therapies for various causes of vison loss. The recent advent of commercially-available extracellular flux analyzers has made the study of retinal energy metabolism more accessible. This protocol describes the use of such an analyzer to measure contributions to retinal energy supply through its two principle arms - oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis - by quantifying changes in oxygen consumption rates (OCR) and extracellular acidification rates (ECAR) as proxies for these pathways. This technique is readily performed in explanted retinal tissue, facilitating assessment of responses to multiple pharmacologic agents in a single experiment. Metabolic signatures in retinas from animals lacking rod photoreceptor signaling are compared to wild-type controls using this method. A major limitation in this technique is the lack of ability to discriminate between light-adapted and dark-adapted energy utilization, an important physiologic consideration in retinal tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58626
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number143
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Biology
  • Extracellular acidification rate
  • Glycolysis
  • Issue 143
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Oxygen consumption rate
  • Retina


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