PURPOSE:To investigate how glial cells participate in retinal circulation during flicker stimulation in cats.METHODS:Using laser Doppler velocimetry, we measured the vessel diameter and blood velocity simultaneously and calculated the retinal blood flow (RBF) in feline first-order retinal arterioles. Twenty-four hours after intravitreal injections of L-2-aminoadipic acid (LAA), a gliotoxic compound, and the solvent of 0.01 N hydrochloric acid as a control, we examined the changes in RBF in response to 16-Hz flicker stimulation for 3 minutes. We also measured the changes in RBF 2 hours after intravitreal injection of Nω-propyl-L-arginine (L-NPA), a selective neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, in LAA-treated eyes. To evaluate the effects of LAA on retinal neuronal function, ERGs were monitored. Immunohistochemical examinations were performed.RESULTS:In LAA-treated eyes, histologic changes selectively occurred in retinal glial cells. There were no significant reductions in amplitude or elongation of implicit time in ERG after LAA injections compared with controls. In control eyes, the RBF gradually increased and reached the maximal level (53.5% ± 2.5% increase from baseline) after 2 to 3 minutes of flicker stimulation. In LAA-treated eyes, the increases in RBF during flicker stimulation were attenuated significantly compared with controls. In LAA-treated eyes 2 hours after injection of L-NPA, flicker-evoked increases in RBF decreased significantly compared with LAA-treated eyes.CONCLUSIONS:The current results suggested that increases in RBF in response to flicker stimulation were regulated partly by retinal glial cells.