Optometry and Vision Sciences - Research Publications

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    Implantation and Recording of Wireless Electroretinogram and Visual Evoked Potential in Conscious Rats
    Charng, J ; He, Z ; Bui, B ; Vingrys, A ; Ivarsson, M ; Fish, R ; Gurrell, R ; Nguyen, C (JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, 2016-06-01)
    The full-field electroretinogram (ERG) and visual evoked potential (VEP) are useful tools to assess retinal and visual pathway integrity in both laboratory and clinical settings. Currently, preclinical ERG and VEP measurements are performed with anesthesia to ensure stable electrode placements. However, the very presence of anesthesia has been shown to contaminate normal physiological responses. To overcome these anesthesia confounds, we develop a novel platform to assay ERG and VEP in conscious rats. Electrodes are surgically implanted sub-conjunctivally on the eye to assay the ERG and epidurally over the visual cortex to measure the VEP. A range of amplitude and sensitivity/timing parameters are assayed for both the ERG and VEP at increasing luminous energies. The ERG and VEP signals are shown to be stable and repeatable for at least 4 weeks post surgical implantation. This ability to record ERG and VEP signals without anesthesia confounds in the preclinical setting should provide superior translation to clinical data.
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    Reversibility of retinal ganglion cell dysfunction due to chronic IOP elevation.
    Zhao, D ; Wong, VHY ; He, Z ; Nguyen, CTO ; Jobling, AI ; Fletcher, E ; Chinnery, H ; Jusuf, P ; Lim, JKH ; Vingrys, AJ ; Bui, BV (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2018-07-01)
    Purpose : To determine the duration of chronic IOP elevation beyond which ganglion cell function can no longer recover using the mouse circumlimbal suture model. Methods : IOP elevation was induced in anaesthetized (isoflurane) adult male C57BL6/J mice by attaching a circumlimbal suture (nylon, 10/0) around the equator of one eye, with the contralateral eye serving as a control. The suture was left in place for 8, 12 and 16 weeks (n=27, 23 and 27), respectively, and animals underwent electroretinography and optical coherence tomography at these time points. In two other groups, the suture was removed after 8 and 12 weeks (n=26 and 28), and the capacity for recovery assessed 4 weeks later. IOP was measured weekly (Tonolab). Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) function (or integrity) was assessed with the positive scotopic threshold response (pSTR) and retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness. Data (mean ± SEM) were compared using t-test (control vs. treatment) and one-way ANOVA (within groups). Results : IOP in sutured eyes was higher than control eyes (8wk: 17.1 ± 0.3 vs. 26.8 ± 0.6 mmHg, 12wk: 13.8 ± 0.3 vs. 19.5 ± 0.5 mmHg, 16wk: 17.1 ± 0.2 vs. 27.4 ± 0.6 mmHg; all P<0.001). After suture removal, IOP returned to levels comparable to control eyes (8+4wk: 16.9 ± 0.3 vs. 16.1 ± 0.3 mmHg; P=0.08, 12+4wk: 17.3 ± 0.2 vs. 17.1 ± 0.3 mmHg; P=0.5). With IOP elevation, RGC function declined to 75% ± 8% (8wk), 78% ± 7% (12wk) and 59% ± 4% (16wk, all P<0.001) of control eyes. RNFL thinning was also evident (8wk: 84% ± 4%, 12wk: 83% ± 5%; 16wk: 83% ± 3%; P<0.001) but no change in total retinal thickness was noted (P=0.33). Suture removal at week 8 facilitated full recovery of RGC function (97% ± 7%, P=0.9 vs. baseline) 4 weeks later. However, there was no recovery in RNFL thickness (87% ± 3%, P<0.001 vs. baseline). When the suture was removed at week 12, neither function (79% ± 9%, P<0.05) nor RNFL thickness recovered (89% ± 3%, P<0.01) 4 weeks later. Conclusions : RGC dysfunction can be recovered 4 weeks after an 8-week period of mild IOP elevation, but not after a 12-week period. Beyond 12 weeks, IOP reversal only served to prevent further functional decline. This identifies a critical chronic IOP duration that results in irreversible ganglion cell dysfunction. This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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    Response of the Rat Optic Nerve to Acute Intraocular and Intracranial Pressure Changes
    Zhao, D ; He, Z ; Van Koeverden, A ; Vingrys, AJ ; Wong, VHY ; Lim, JKH ; Nguyen, CTO ; Bui, BV ; Wang, N (Springer, 2019)
    Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease, characterized by the progressive death of retinal ganglion cells. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is known to be an important risk factor for glaucoma; however, it is not the only force acting on the optic nerve. Intracranial pressure (ICP) also exerts an effect on the optic nerve head, effectively opposing the force applied by IOP. Indeed, this balance of forces creates a pressure gradient (or the translaminar pressure gradient) across the optic nerve head [1]. Increasingly it is thought that the pressure difference between IOP and ICP, the translaminar pressure (TLP), may be critical for the integrity of the retina and optic nerve [2], and thus ICP may be an important risk factor for glaucoma [2–6].
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    A Model of Glaucoma Induced by Circumlimbal Suture in Rats and Mice
    He, Z ; Zhao, D ; van Koeverden, AK ; Nguyen, CT ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Vingrys, AJ ; Bui, BV (Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2018)
    The circumlimbal suture is a technique for inducing experimental glaucoma in rodents by chronically elevating intraocular pressure (IOP), a well-known risk factor for glaucoma. This protocol demonstrates a step-by-step guide on this technique in Long Evans rats and C57BL/6 mice. Under general anesthesia, a "purse-string" suture is applied on the conjunctiva, around the equator and behind the limbus of the eye. The fellow eye serves as an untreated control. Over the duration of our study, which was a period of 8 weeks for rats and 12 weeks for mice, IOP remained elevated, as measured regularly by rebound tonometry in conscious animals without topical anesthesia. In both species, the sutured eyes showed electroretinogram features consistent with preferential inner retinal dysfunction. Optical coherence tomography showed selective thinning of the retinal nerve fiber layer. Histology of the rat retina in cross-section found reduced cell density in the ganglion cell layer, but no change in other cellular layers. Staining of flat-mounted mouse retinae with a ganglion cell specific marker (RBPMS) confirmed ganglion cell loss. The circumlimbal suture is a simple, minimally invasive and cost-effective way to induce ocular hypertension that leads to ganglion cell injury in both rats and mice.
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    Characterization of retinal function and structure in the MPTP murine model of Parkinson's disease
    Tran, KKN ; Wong, VHY ; Lim, JKH ; Shahandeh, A ; Anh, H ; Finkelstein, D ; Bui, B ; Nguyen, CTO (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-05-09)
    In addition to well characterized motor symptoms, visual disturbances are increasingly recognized as an early manifestation in Parkinson's disease (PD). A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying these changes would facilitate the development of vision tests which can be used as preclinical biomarkers to support the development of novel therapeutics for PD. This study aims to characterize the retinal phenotype of a mouse model of dopaminergic dysfunction and to examine whether these changes are reversible with levodopa treatment. We use a 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of PD to characterize the neurotoxic effects of MPTP on in vivo retinal function (electroretinography, ERG), retinal structure (optical coherence tomography, OCT) and retinal dopaminergic cell number (tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry, IHC) at two time points (21 and 45 days) post MPTP model induction. We also investigate the effect of levodopa (L-DOPA) as a proof-of-principle chronic intervention against MPTP-induced changes in the retina. We show that MPTP decreases dopaminergic amacrine cell number (9%, p < 0.05) and that a component of the ERG that involves these cells, in particular oscillatory potential (OP) peak timing, was significantly delayed at Day 45 (7-13%, p < 0.01). This functional deficit was paralleled by outer plexiform layer (OPL) thinning (p < 0.05). L-DOPA treatment ameliorated oscillatory potential deficits (7-13%, p < 0.001) in MPTP animals. Our data suggest that the MPTP toxin slows the timing of inner retinal feedback circuits related to retinal dopaminergic pathways which mirrors findings from humans with PD. It also indicates that the MPTP model causes structural thinning of the outer retinal layer on OCT imaging that is not ameliorated with L-DOPA treatment. Together, these non-invasive measures serve as effective biomarkers for PD diagnosis as well as for quantifying the effect of therapy.
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    Evaluating retinal biomarkers in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease
    Nguyen, CTO ; Tran, K ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Shahandeh, A ; Vingrys, AJ ; Bui, BV ; Finkelstein, D (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2019-07-01)
    Purpose : The retina, an accessible outpouching of the central nervous system, may manifest cortical changes that occur with Parkinson’s disease (PD), lending itself as a potential biomarker. PD is characterised by reduced dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter found in amacrine cells. Human PD patients have also shown structural changes in the outer retina. This work aims to determine if retinal function and structure are altered in a murine model of PD and whether deficits can be ameliorated with L-DOPA treatment. Methods : A PD model was induced in adult C57BL6/J mice using MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine, 4x i.p. injections, 20mg/kg) and vehicle control and examined at day 21 and 45. Another MPTP group was administered L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine 0.2 mg/ml) or control in their drinking water and assessed at day 45 (n=12–15/group). In ketamine:xylazine anaesthetised (80:10mg/kg) mice full-field dark- and light-adapted electroretinography (ERG) was assessed to target dopamine-related responses. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was used to quantify thickness of retinal layers. Retinal and cortical tissue were collected for immunohistochemical assessment of changes in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)and imaged using confocal microscopy. Data (mean±SEM) were compared using unpaired ANOVA and t-tests as appropriate. Results : At day 21 no retinal changes were found. At day 45 dark and light adapted ERGs showed slower amacrine cell responses (oscillatory potential, p<0.05), a finding which reversed with L-DOPA treatment (p<0.05). Other components of the ERG were unchanged. TH staining showed a trend towards decreased retinal levels in MPTP mice but this did not reach significance (p=0.10). Reduced levels of TH were found in the ventral hippocampus of MPTP mice compared with control (p<0.05). OCT revealed thinning of the outer plexiform layer at day 45, and the L-DOPA group exhibited a thinning of the outer nuclear layer (p<0.05). Conclusions : This study shows for the first time that the MPTP model recapitulates key dopaminergic changes previously reported in humans. In particular, electroretinographic changes that correspond with dopaminergic retinal cells occur in the Parkinson’s model and reverse with therapeutic treatment. Structural thinning of the outer retinal layers also occur, which parallels some human findings. This work paves the way for retinal measures as preclinical screening tools in drug development.
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    How ganglion cell responses to IOP elevation are impacted by blood pressure and intracranial pressure
    Bui, BV ; van Koeverden, A ; He, Z ; Vingrys, AJ ; Nguyen, CTO ; Zhao, D (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2019-07-01)
    Purpose : The extent to which blood pressure or intracranial pressure modifies ganglion cell responses to acute intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation incompletely understood. Using the electroretinogram (ERG) we measure ganglion cell mediated responses in rat retina, whilst acutely modifying IOP, BP and ICP in a systematic manner. We quantify the relationship between ganglion cell function and ocular perfusion pressure (BP - IOP) at low, normal and high ICP. Methods : Six groups of adult Long-Evans rats (n=7-11 eyes/group, total animals = 25) were anaesthetised (60:5mg/kg ketamine:xylazine) and underwent acute pressure modification. A femoral artery and vein were cannulated for blood pressure measurement and manipulation (sodium nitroprusside to lower and angiotensin II to elevate pressure). ICP was set to -5, 5 or 25 mmHg via a dual cannula (30G infusion needle inside a 23G measurement needle) placed into the lateral ventricle (-1.5mm from bregma, ±2mm from midline) on the ipsilateral side to the cannulated eye (30G, vitreal chamber). At each ICP (-5, 5 or 25 mmHg) and BP setting (normal or high), IOP was raised from 10 to 90 mmHg in 10 mmHg steps (3 min each). At each IOP level ganglion cell function was assessed using the scotopic threshold response (-5 log cd.s/m2, 20 repeats). Data were compared using one- and two-way ANOVA. Results : Average blood pressure at baseline was similar for the normal blood pressure groups (ICP-5 93±3; ICP5 99±5; ICP25 105±3mmHg, p=0.8). There was significant BP elevation in all the high blood pressure groups (ICP-5 160±3; ICP5 157±3; ICP25 157±5mmHg p<0.001). Compared with normal blood pressure groups (32.0±2.0μV), animals with high blood pressure (24.5±1.8μV) had significantly smaller baseline STR amplitudes (p<0.01). There was also a significant ICP effect (p<0.01), with larger baseline amplitudes in the 25mmHg ICP group (34.8±1.6μV) compared with normal (26.4±2.5μV) and low ICP groups (23.9±2.5μV). The ocular perfusion pressure (BP-IOP) relationship fully could not account for difference in ganglion cell function between ICP levels. Conclusions : Ganglion cell function is dependent on ocular perfusion pressure, excessive low or high perfusion attenuates function. Higher intracranial pressure appears to protect against acute ocular perfusion stress.
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    A retinal imaging biomarker of Alzheimer's disease
    van Wijngaarden, P ; Hadoux, X ; Hui, F ; Lim, J ; Nguyen, C ; Bui, B ; Crowston, J (Wiley, 2019-11-01)
    Background: Amyloid-beta (Ab) deposition in the brain is a diagnostic marker for Alzheimer's disease (AD), but current tests are costly and not widely available. Evidence from transgenic rodent models and post-mortem human tissues suggest that retinal accumulation of Ab may serve as a surrogate marker of brain Ab levels. As Ab has a wavelength-dependent effect on light scatter, we investigated the potential for in vivo retinal hyperspectral imaging to serve as a biomarker of brain Ab. Purpose: To develop and validate a retinal imaging biomarker of Alzheimer's disease. Methods: We performed human retinal hyperspectral imaging on individuals with high Ab burden on brain PET imaging and mild cognitive impairment (cases; n = 15), and age-matched PET-negative controls (n = 20). Image analysis methods were developed and validated on a second group of participants with and with (n = 4) and without (n = 13) moderate-to-high brain Ab burden and on transgenic mice (5xFAD) known to accumulate retinal Ab. Results: We show significant differences in retinal reflectance spectra between cases and controls in both cohorts (AUC ROC = 0.82, P = 0.001, 95% CI: 0.67-0.97). There was a moderate positive linear correlation between retinal imaging scores and brain Abburden (r = 0.46, 95%CI: 0.13-0.69, P = 0.008).The technique also enabled discrimination of AD-model mice from wild-type controls. Conclusion: We have developed a novel retinal imaging method to distinguish people with moderate-high brain Ab load from those without. This approach may have value for the diagnostic confirmation of AD.
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    Progressive impairments in executive function in the APP/PS1 model of Alzheimer’s disease as measured by translatable touchscreen testing
    Shepherd, A ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Zeleznikow-Johnston, AM ; Churilov, L ; Nguyen, CTO ; Bui, BV ; Hannan, AJ ; Burrows, EL ( 2019-08-21)
    Executive function deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) occur early in disease progression and may be predictive of cognitive decline. However, no preclinical studies have identified deficits in rewarded executive function in the commonly used APP/PS1 mouse model. To address this, we assessed 12-26 month old APP/PS1 mice on rewarded reversal and/or extinction tasks. 16-month-old, but not 13- or 26-month-old, APP/PS1 mice showed an attenuated rate of extinction. Reversal deficits were seen in 22-month-old, but not 13-month-old APP/PS1 animals. We then confirmed that impairments in reversal were unrelated to previously reported visual impairments in both AD mouse models and humans. Age, but not genotype, had a significant effect on markers of retinal health, indicating the deficits seen in APP/PS1 mice were directly related to cognition. This is the first characterisation of rewarded executive function in APP/PS1 mice, and has great potential to facilitate translation from preclinical models to the clinic.
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    Age-Specific Retinal and Cerebral Immunodetection of Amyloid-beta Plaques and Oligomers in a Rodent Model of Alzheimer's Disease
    Habiba, U ; Merlin, S ; Lim, JKH ; Wong, VHY ; Nguyen, CTO ; Morley, JW ; Bui, B ; Tayebi, M (IOS PRESS, 2020-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Amyloid-β soluble oligomers (Aβo) are believed to be the cause of the pathophysiology underlying Alzheimer's disease (AD) and are normally detected some two decades before clinical onset of the disease. Retinal pathology associated with AD pathogenesis has previously been reported, including ganglion cell loss, accumulation of Aβ deposits in the retina, and reduction of nerve fiber layer thickness as well as abnormalities of the microvasculature. OBJECTIVE: This study's aim is to better understand the relationship between brain and retinal Aβo deposition and in particular to quantify levels of the toxic Aβo as a function of age in the retina of a rodent model of AD. METHODS: Retinas and brain tissue from 5×FAD mice were stained with Congo red, Thioflavin-T (Th-T), and Aβ plaque-specific and Aβo-specific antibodies. RESULTS: We show that retinas displayed an age-dependent increase of Th-T-specific amyloid fibrils. Staining with anti-Aβ antibody confirmed the presence of the Aβ plaques in all 5×FAD retinas tested. In contrast, staining with anti-Aβo antibody showed an age-dependent decrease of retinal Aβo. Of note, Aβo was observed mainly in the retinal nuclear layers. Finally, we confirmed the localization of Aβo to neurons, typically accumulating in late endosomes, indicating possible impairment of the endocytic pathway. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate the presence of intraneuronal Aβo in the retina and its accumulation inversely correlated with retinal Aβ plaque deposition, indicating an age-related conversion in this animal model. These results support the development of an early AD diagnostic test targeting Aβo in the eye.