Rhodopsin, vitamin A, and interstitial retinol-binding protein in the rd chicken

C. D.B. Bridges, R. A. Alvarez, S. L. Fong, G. I. Liou, R. J. Ulshafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In order to determine whether blindness in the rd strain of Rhode Island Red chickens is due to a defect in the vitamin A (visual) cycle, spectroscopy, high performance liquid chromatography, and immunochemical techniques were used to compare the amounts of rhodopsin, interstitial retinol-binding protein, and vitamin A compounds in the dark-adapted eyes of homozygous rd and heterozygous carriers. In both groups of chickens, (up to 6 weeks post-hatching) the distribution of stored vitamin A differed from other vertebrates (mammals, amphibians, fish) in that more than half of the retinyl palmitate/stearate occurred in the neurosensory retina. The 11-cis isomer accounted for nearly 100% of the retinyl palmitate/stearate in the neurosensory retinas of both groups. In the pigmented layers (pigment epithelium and choroid) the 11-cis isomer amounted to 70.1 ± 4.2% in the carrier, and 65.1 ± 2.9% in the rd birds. With respect to their content of rhodopsin, IRBP, retinyl palmitate/stearate and unesterified retinol, (both 11-cis and all-trans isomers) no significant difference could be demonstrated between the eyes of rd and carrier chickens (3 days and 28 days post-hatching). These results therefore demonstrate that the ocular tissues of rd chickens do not lack IRBP, the putative extracellular transport protein for vitamin A, that these tissues synthesize and store the 11-cis isomer of vitamin A, and that the 11-cis isomer is used to form rhodopsin. It is suggested that the absence of vision in rd chickens is similar to the human condition of dominantly-inherited night blindness, and may be due to a defect in the transduction process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-617
Number of pages5
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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