Age dependence of retinal vascular plexus attenuation in the triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Hossein K. Nazari, Cina Karimaghaei, Rochelle van der Merwe, Mauro Montalbano, Giulio Taglialatela, Gracie Vargas, Wenbo Zhang, Massoud Motamedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The influence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) progression and severity on the structural and functional integrity of the cerebral vasculature is well recognized. The retina is an extension of the brain; thus, changes in retinal vascular features may serve as markers of AD cerebrovascular pathologies. However, differentiating normal aging-versus AD-induced retinal vascular changes is unresolved. Therefore, we compared and quantified changes in superficial (SVP), intermediate (IVP), and deep (DVP) retinal vascular plexuses in young, middle-age, and old triple transgenic mouse model of AD (3xT-AD) to the changes that occur in age-matched controls (C57BL/6j). We used immunostaining combined with a novel tissue optical clearing approach along with a computational tool for quantitative analysis of vascular network alterations (vessel length and density) in SVP, IVP, and DVP. All three layers had comparable structural features and densities in young 3xTg-AD and control animals. In controls, IVP and DVP densities decreased with aging (−14% to −32% change from young to old, p < 0.05), while no changes were observed in SVP. In contrast, vascular parameters in the transgenic group decreased in all three layers with aging (−12% to −49% change from young to old, p < 0.05). Furthermore, in the old group, SVP and DVP vascular parameters were lower in the transgenics compared to age-matched controls (p < 0.05). Our analysis demonstrates that normal aging and progression of AD lead to various degrees of vascular alterations in the retina. Specifically, compared to normal aging, changes in vascular features of SVP and DVP regions of the retina are accelerated during AD progression. Considering recent advances in the field of depth-resolved imaging of retinal capillary network and microangiography, noninvasive quantitative monitoring of changes in retinal vascular network parameters of SVP and DVP may serve as markers for diagnosis and staging of Alzheimer's disease and discriminating AD-induced vascular attenuation from age-related vasculopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108879
JournalExperimental Eye Research
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • 3xTg-AD
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Deep vascular plexus
  • Intermediate vascular plexus
  • Retina
  • Retinal vascular density
  • Superficial vascular plexus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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