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Profile of Yves Sauvé, PhD

Associate Professor

7-55 Medical Sciences Building
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB T5H 3V9

Tel: 780.492.8609
Fax: 780.492.6934


  • PhD Physiology, McGill University, 1995
  • MSc Neurological Sciences, Universite de Montreal, 1988
  • BSc Biochemistry, Universite de Montreal, 1986


Functional assessment of degeneration and therapies in the visual system

The driving force behind my work has been that it is all very well to prevent neuronal degeneration and reconstruct interrupted CNS circuitry but what are the functional impacts? In recent years my work has changed its focus to direct attention to animal models of human retinal disease. For instance, do experimentally preserved photoreceptors display normal function? What are the repercussions of retinal circuitry remodeling (inherent to retinal degeneration) on the processing of photoreceptor outputs? This problem can be approached by doing electrophysiological studies in animal models of retinal degeneration and rescue.

I have been involved in research focusing mainly on the visual system because it provides a clear model for circuit reconstruction and functional assessment. Another reason for using the visual system is that there are several inherited retinal dystrophies in animals such as the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rat (which has a primary defect in retinal pigment epithelial, RPE, cells) that serve as models for pathologies in humans including retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age related macular degeneration (AMD). Approaches are being developed to repair or prevent retinal degeneration in such models, with the idea that these might be transferred to the clinic. An in depth study of animal models is crucial before considering any clinical trials. I am currently involved in studying the potential benefits of subretinal transplantation of fresh cells or cell lines, in order to preserve vision in rodent models of retinal degeneration. As a background to such studies it is important to learn more about the impact of progressive retinal degeneration on central visual processing in order to fully appreciate what level of vision is sustained as photoreceptors are lost and what can be preserved after an experimental intervention. To this extent, I have developed a method (involving mapping visual receptive fields over the superior colliculus) that permits a point-to-point evaluation of visual function across the retina, similar to Humphrey perimetry testing in humans. The pertinence of this method is that it allows making a correlation between anatomical and functional observations at specific points in the retina. In parallel, we are applying a series of analytical electroretinogram (ERG) tests to assess the respective contribution of rods and cones to retinal function. In addition, I haverecorded single units in the rat primary visual cortex in order to define and characterize receptive field properties such as spatial and temporal resolution and tuning, contrast sensitivity, orientation and direction selectivity, and organization of the receptive field surround. Finally, I compare the functional data with anatomical studies of retinal circuitry using immunohistochemical markers and confocal microscopy.


electroretinogram (ERG), single and multi-unit extracellular recordings to assess visual response properties in the CNS, behavioral assessment of visual response properties, microsurgery, anatomical tracing, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy.

Selected Awards

  • Recipient, Physiology Excellence in Teaching Award, 2012-2013
  • AHFMR Senior Scholar Award, 2008
  • Barbara Tuck/MacPhee Family Vision Research Award in Macular Degeneration, 2006
  • EVER 2006 Posterprize winner for the Section - Anatomy/Cell Biology
  • Best Present, 5th European VitreoRetinal Society Meeting, Sweden, June 18-22, 2005

Selected Publications

  • Ortiin-Martinez A, Jimenez-Lopez M, Nadal-Nicolas FM, Salinas-Navarro M, Alarcon-Martinez L, Sauve Y, Villegas-Perez MP, Vidal-Sanz M, Agudo-Barriuso M. Automatic quantification and topographical distribution of the whole population of S and L cones in the adult albino and pigmented rats. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Jan 2010 (Epub ahead of print).
  • Kuny S, Gaillard F, Mema S, Freund P, Zhang K, MacDonald IM, Sparrow JR, Sauve Y. Inner retina remodeling in a mouse model of Stargardt-like macular dystrophy (STGD3). Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Nov 2009 (Epub ahead of print).
  • Gaillard F, Kuny S, Sauve Y. (2009) Topographic arrangement of S-cone photoreceptors in the retina of the diurnal Nile grass rat (Arvicanthis niloticus). Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 50(11):5426-34.
  • Suh M, Sauve Y, Merrells KJ, Kang JX, Ma DW. (2009) Supranormal electroretinogram in fat-1 mice with retinas enriched in docosahexaenoic acid and n-3 very long chain fatty acids (C24-C36). Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 50(9):4394-401.
  • Pinilla I, Guenca N, Martinez-Navarrete G, Lund RD, Sauve Y. (2009) Intraretinal processing following photoreceptor rescue by non-retinal cells. Vision Res. 49(16):2067-77.
  • Asai-Coakwell M, French CR, Ye M, Garcha K, Bigot K, Perera AG, Staehling-Hampton K, Mema SC, Chanda B, Mushegian A, Bamforth S, Doschak MR, Li G, Dobbs MB, Giampietro PF, Brooks BP, Vijayalakshmi P, Sauve Y, Abitbol M, Sundaresan P, Heyningen VV, Pourquie O, Underhill TM, Waskiewicz AJ, Lehmann OJ. (2009) Incomplete penetrance and phenotypic variability characterize GDF6-attributable oculo-skeletal phenotypes. Hum Mol Genet Jan 6 (Epub ahead of print)
  • Gilmour GS, Gaillard F, Watson J, Kuny S, Mema SC, Bonfield S, Stell WK, Sauve Y. (2008) The electroretinogram (ERG) of a diurnal cone-rich laboratory rodent, the Nile grass rat (Arvicanthis niloticus). Vis Res 48(27): 2723-31
  • Gaillard F, Bonfield S, Gilmour GS, Kuny S, Mema SC, Martin BT, Smale L, Crowder N, Stell WK, Sauve Y. (2008) Retinal anatomy and visual performance in a diurnal cone-rich laboratory rodent, the Nile grass rat (Arvicanthis niloticus) J Comp Neurol 510(5):525-38
  • Doering CJ, Rehak R, Bonfield S, Peloquin JB, Stell WK, Mema SC, Sauve Y, McRory JE. (2008) Modified Ca(v)1.4 expressionin the Cacna1f (nob2) mouse due to alternative splicing of an ETn inserted in exon 2. PLoS ONE 3(7):e2538
  • Alvarez BV, Gilmour G, Mema SC, Martin B, Shull GE, Casey JR, Sauve Y. (2007) Blindness caused by deficiency in AE3 chloride/ bicarbonate exchanger. PLoS ONE 2(9):e839
  • Gaillard F, Sauve Y (2007) Cell-based therapy for retina degeneration: The promise of a cure. Vis Res 47: 2815-2824 (DOI link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2007.06.018)
  • Pinilla I, Cuenca N, Sauve Y, Wang S, Lund RD (2007) Preservation of outer retina and its synaptic connectivity following subretinal injections of human RPE cells in the Royal College of Surgeons rat. Exp Eye Res 85:381-392.
  • MacDonald IM, Sauve Y, Sieving PA. (2007) Preventing blindness in retinal disease: ciliary neurotrophic factor intraocular implants. Can J Ophthalmol 42(3):399-402.
  • Gamm DM, Wang S, Lu B, Girman S, Holmes T, Bischoff N, Shearer RL, Sauve Y, Capowski E, Svendsen CN, Lund RD (2007) Protection of Photoreceptors and Visual Function by Human Neural Progenitors. PLoS ONE 2(3):e338.
  • Yau RJ, Sereda CA, McTaggart KE, Sauve Y, MacDonald IM (2007) Choroideremia carriers maintain a normal electro-oculogram. Doc Ophthalmol 114:147-151.
  • Harvey S, Martin BT, Baudet ML, Davis P, Sauve Y, Sanders EJ (2007) Growth hormone in the visual system: Comparative endocrinology. Gen Comp Endocrinol 153:124-131.
  • Symonds ACE, King CE, Bartlett CA, Sauve Y, Lund RD, Beazley LD, Dunlop SA, Rodger J (2007) EphA/ephrin-A expression duriing optic nerve regeneration: a "two edged sword". Eur J Neurosci 25:744-752.
  • Sauve Y, Karan G, Yang Z, Li C, Hu J, Zhang K (2006) Treatment with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors depresses electroretinogram responsiveness in mice. Adv Exp Med Biol 572:439-446.
  • Lund RD, Wang S, Lu B, Girman S, Holmes T, Sauve Y, Messina DJ, Harris IR, Kihm TJ, Harmon AM, Feng-Yi C, Gosiewska A, Mistry SK (2006) Cells isolated from umbilical cord tissue rescue photoreceptors and visual functions in a rodent model of retinal disease. Stem Cells 25:602-611.
  • Lund RD, Wang S, Klimanskaya I, Holmes T, Ramos-Kelsey R, Lu B, Girman S, Bischoff N, Sauve Y, Lanza R (2006) Human embryonic stem cell-derived cells rescue visual function in dystrophic RCS rats. Cloning and Stem Cells 8:189-199
  • King WM, Sarup V, Sauve Y, Carpenter DO, Sharma SC (2006) Expansion of visual receptive field in glaucomatous rat. Vis Neurosci 23:137-142.
  • King C, Bartlett C, Sauve Y, Lund RD, Dunlop S, Beazley L (2006) Retinal ganglion cell axons regenerate in the presence of intact sensory fibres. Neuroreport 17:195-199.
  • Sauve Y, Pinilla I, Lund RD (2006) Partial preservation of rod and cone ERG function following subretinal injection of ARPE-19 cells in the RCS rat. Vis Res 46:1459-1472.
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