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Jessica V. Jasien, A. Thomas Read, Joseph van Batenburg-Sherwood, Kristin M. Perkumas, C. Ross Ethier, W. Daniel Stamer, Brian C. Samuels; Anterior Segment Anatomy and Conventional Outflow Physiology of the Tree Shrew (Tupaia belangeri). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(1):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.1.21.
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Rodent and primate models are commonly used in glaucoma research; however, both have their limitations. The tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) is an emerging animal model for glaucoma research due in part to having a human-like optic nerve head anatomy, specifically a collagenous load-bearing lamina. However, the anterior segment anatomy and function have not been extensively studied in the tree shrew. Thus, the purpose of this study was to provide the first detailed examination of the anterior segment anatomy and aqueous outflow facility in the tree shrew.
Aqueous outflow dynamics were measured in five ostensibly normal eyes from three tree shrews using the iPerfusion system over a range of pressures. Gross histological assessment and immunohistochemistry were performed to characterize anterior segment anatomy and to localize several key molecules related to aqueous outflow.
Anterior segment anatomy in tree shrews is similar to humans, demonstrating a scleral spur, a multi-layered trabecular meshwork and a circular Schlemm's canal with a single lumen. Average outflow facility was 0.193 [0.153, 0.244] µl/min/mmHg (mean, 95% CI), and was stable over time. Outflow facility was more similar between contralateral eyes (approximately 5% average difference) than between eyes of different animals. No significant dependence of outflow facility on time or pressure was detected (pressure–flow non-linearity parameter of 0.01 [−0.29, 0.31] µl/min/mmHg (mean, 95% CI).
These studies lend support to the usefulness of the tree shrew as a novel animal model in anterior segment glaucoma and pharmacology research. The tree shrew's cost, load-bearing collagenous lamina cribrosa, and lack of washout or anterior chamber deepening provides a distinct experimental and anatomic advantage over the current rodent and non-human primate models used for translational research.
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