Long time remodeling during retinal degeneration evaluated by optical coherence tomography, immunocytochemistry and fundus autofluorescence

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To characterize the relationship between fundus autofluorescence (FAF), Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) over the course of chronic retinal degeneration in the P23H rat.


Homozygous albino P23H rats, Sprague–Dawley (SD) rats as controls and pigmented Long Evans (LE) rats were used. A Spectralis HRA OCT system was used for scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO) imaging OCT and angiography. To determine FAF, fluorescence was excited using diode laser at 488 nm. A fast retina map OCT was performed using the optic nerve as a landmark. IHC was performed to correlate with the findings of OCT and FAF changes.


During the course of retinal degeneration, the FAF pattern evolved from some spotting at 2 months old to a mosaic of hyperfluorescent dots in rats 6 months and older. Retinal thicknesses progressively diminished over the course of the disease. At later stages of degeneration, OCT documented changes in the retinal layers, however, IHC better identified the cell loss and remodeling changes. Angiography revealed attenuation of the retinal vascular plexus with time.


We provide for the first time a detailed long-term analysis of the course of retinal degeneration in P23H rats using a combination of SLO and OCT imaging, angiography, FAF and IHC. Although, the application of noninvasive methods enables longitudinal studies and will decrease the number of animals needed for a study, IHC is still an essential tool to identify retinal changes at the cellular level.

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