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Alyssa L. Lie, Xingzheng Pan, Thomas W. White, Ehsan Vaghefi, Paul J. Donaldson; Age-Dependent Changes in Total and Free Water Content of In Vivo Human Lenses Measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(9):33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.9.33.
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To use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure age-dependent changes in total and free water in human lenses in vivo.
Sixty-four healthy adults aged 18 to 86 years were recruited, fitted with a 32-channel head receiver coil, and placed in a 3 Tesla clinical MR scanner. Scans of the crystalline lens were obtained using a volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination sequence with dual flip angles, which were corrected for field inhomogeneity post-acquisition using a B1-map obtained using a turbo-FLASH sequence. The spatial distribution and content of corrected total (ρlens) and free (T1) water along the lens optical axis were extracted using custom-written code.
Lens total water distribution and content did not change with age (all P > 0.05). In contrast to total water, a gradient in free water content that was highest in the periphery relative to the center was present in lenses across all ages. However, this initially parabolic free water gradient gradually developed an enhanced central plateau, as indicated by increasing profile shape parameter values (anterior: 0.067/y, P = 0.004; posterior: 0.050/y, P = 0.020) and central free water content (1.932 ms/y, P = 0.022) with age.
MRI can obtain repeatable total and free water measurements of in vivo human lenses. The observation that the lens steady-state free, but not total, water gradient is abolished with age raises the possibility that alterations in protein-water interactions are an underlying cause of the degradation in lens optics and overall vision observed with aging.
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