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PloS one

Comparison of longitudinal in vivo measurements of retinal nerve fiber layer thickness and retinal ganglion cell density after optic nerve transection in rat.


PMID 25393294

Abstract

To determine the relationship between longitudinal in vivo measurements of retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (RNFLT) and retinal ganglion cell (RGC) density after unilateral optic nerve transection (ONT). Nineteen adult Brown-Norway rats were studied; N = 10 ONT plus RGC label, N = 3 ONT plus vehicle only (sans label), N = 6 sham ONT plus RGC label. RNFLT was measured by spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) at baseline then weekly for 1 month. RGCs were labeled by retrograde transport of fluorescently conjugated cholera toxin B (CTB) from the superior colliculus 48 hours prior to ONT or sham surgery. RGC density measurements were obtained by confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (CSLO) at baseline and weekly for 1 month. RGC density and reactivity of microglia (anti-Iba1) and astrocytes (anti-GFAP) were determined from post mortem fluorescence microscopy of whole-mount retinae. RNFLT decreased after ONT by 17% (p<0.05), 30% (p<0.0001) and 36% (p<0.0001) at weeks 2, 3 and 4. RGC density decreased after ONT by 18%, 69%, 85% and 92% at weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4 (p<0.0001 each). RGC density measured in vivo at week 4 and post mortem by microscopy were strongly correlated (R = 0.91, p<0.0001). In vivo measures of RNFLT and RGC density were strongly correlated (R = 0.81, p<0.0001). In ONT-CTB labeled fellow eyes, RNFLT increased by 18%, 52% and 36% at weeks 2, 3 and 4 (p<0.0001), but did not change in fellow ONT-eyes sans CTB. Microgliosis was evident in the RNFL of the ONT-CTB fellow eyes, exceeding that observed in other fellow eyes. In vivo measurements of RNFLT and RGC density are strongly correlated and can be used to monitor longitudinal changes after optic nerve injury. The strong fellow eye effect observed in eyes contralateral to ONT, only in the presence of CTB label, consisted of a dramatic increase in RNFLT associated with retinal microgliosis.