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Grant Cull, Reinhard Told, Claude F. Burgoyne, Simon Thompson, Brad Fortune, Lin Wang; Compromised Optic Nerve Blood Flow and Autoregulation Secondary to Neural Degeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(12):7286-7292. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-17879.
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To test the hypothesis that optic nerve head (ONH) blood flow (BF) and autoregulation compromise are consequences of optic nerve degeneration induced by surgical optic nerve transection (ONT).
In both eyes of five nonhuman primates, peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (RNFLT) was measured by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. Optic nerve head BF and dynamic autoregulation responses to a rapid manometric IOP increase (from 10–40 mm Hg) were measured by Laser Speckle Flowgraphy. The measurements were conducted every 10 to 15 days before and after unilateral ONT. Post-ONT measurements were repeated until RNFLT in the ONT eye was reduced by more than 40% of baseline value.
After ONT, RNFLT, and ONH BF progressively declined over time (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.02, respectively). Longitudinal changes between the two were highly correlated (P < 0.0001). When data was grouped by test session, the first significant decreases for RNFLT and BF were found 13 ± 0.8 and 24 ± 3.2 days post ONT, respectively (P < 0.05, both). At the final time point (55 ± 0.5 days post ONT), RNFLT, and BF were reduced by 44% ± 2.0% and 38 ± 5.0% from baseline, respectively. Dynamic autoregulation analysis showed marginal increased response time in post-ONT eyes (P = 0.05). Control eyes showed no longitudinal changes for any parameter.
The close association between RNFLT loss and ONH BF decrease following optic nerve degeneration demonstrated a clear cause and effect relationship. Increased BF response time appears to be a sign of dynamic autoregulation dysfunction in this ONT model.
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