Non-Invasive Evaluation of Retinal Vascular Alterations in a Mouse Model of Optic Neuritis Using Laser Speckle Flowgraphy and Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography

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Abstract

Optic neuritis, a characteristic feature of multiple sclerosis (MS), involves the inflammation of the optic nerve and the degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Although previous studies suggest that retinal blood flow alterations occur during optic neuritis, the precise location, the degree of impairment, and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we utilized two emerging non-invasive imaging techniques, laser speckle flowgraphy (LSFG) and optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), to investigate retinal vascular changes in a mouse model of MS, known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). We associated these changes with leukostasis, RGC injury, and the overall progression of EAE. LSFG imaging revealed a progressive reduction in retinal blood flow velocity and increased vascular resistance near the optic nerve head in the EAE model, indicating impaired ocular blood flow. OCTA imaging demonstrated significant decreases in vessel density, number of junctions, and total vessel length in the intermediate and deep capillary plexus of the EAE mice. Furthermore, our analysis of leukostasis revealed a significant increase in adherent leukocytes in the retinal vasculature of the EAE mice, suggesting the occurrence of vascular inflammation in the early development of EAE pathology. The abovechanges preceded or were accompanied by the characteristic hallmarks of optic neuritis, such as RGC loss and reduced visual acuity. Overall, our study sheds light on the intricate relationship between retinal vascular alterations and the progression of optic neuritis as well as MS clinical score. It also highlights the potential for the development of image-based biomarkers for the diagnosis and monitoring of optic neuritis as well as MS, particularly in response to emerging treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2685
JournalCells
Volume12
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • biomarker
  • laser speckle flowgraphy (LSFG)
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • optic neuritis
  • optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA)
  • retinal blood flow
  • retinal vascular inflammation
  • retinal vasculature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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