Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding vasoproliferative disease. There is no standardized way to quantify plus disease (tortuous and dilated retinal vessels) or characterize abnormal recovery during ROP monitoring. This study objectively studies vascular features in live mice during development using noninvasive retinal imaging.Methods
Using fluorescein angiography (FA), retinal vascular features were quantified in live mice with oxygen induced retinopathy (OIR). A total of 105 wild-type mice were exposed to 77% oxygen from postnatal day 7 (P7) till P12 (OIR mice). Also, 105 age-matched pups were raised in room air (RA mice). In vivo FA was performed at early (P16 to P20), mid (P23 to P27), late (P30 to P34), and mature (P47) phases of retinal vascular development. Retinal vascular area, retinal vein width, and retinal artery tortuosity were quantified.Results
Retinal artery tortuosity was higher in OIR than RA mice at early (p < 0.0001), mid (p < 0.0001), late (p < 0.0001), and mature (p < 0.0001) phases. Retinal vascular area in OIR mice increased from early to mid-phase (p < 0.0001), but remained unchanged from mid to late (p = 0.23), and from late to mature phase (p = 0.98). Retinal vein width was larger in OIR mice compared to RA mice during early phase only. Arteries in OIR mice were more tortuous from early to mid-phase (p < 0.0001), but tortuosity remained stable from mid through mature phase. RA mice had an increase in retinal vascular area from early to late phase, but maintained uniform retinal vein width and retinal artery tortuosity in all phases.Conclusions
In vivo FA distinguished arterial and venous features, similar to plus disease, and revealed aberrant recovery of OIR mice (arterial tortuosity, reduced capillary density, and absent neovascular buds) that persisted into adulthood. Retinal artery tortuosity may be a reliable, objective marker of severity of ROP. Infants with abnormal retinal vascular recovery may need extended monitoring.