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Giacomo Calzetti, Chiara La Morgia, Marco Cattaneo, Arturo Carta, Francesca Bosello, Giulia Amore, Michele Carbonelli, Maria Lucia Cascavilla, Stefano Gandolfi, Valerio Carelli, Leopold Schmetterer, Hendrik P. N. Scholl, Piero Barboni; Longitudinal Study of Optic Disk Perfusion and Retinal Structure in Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(1):43. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.1.43.
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate optic disk perfusion and neural retinal structure in patients with subacute Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) and LHON carriers, as compared with healthy controls.
This study included 8 patients with LHON in the subacute stage, 10 asymptomatic carriers of a LHON-associated mitochondrial DNA mutation, and 40 controls. All subjects underwent measurement of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness, the ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thickness using optical coherence tomography and optic disk microvascular perfusion (Mean Tissue [MT]) using laser speckle flowgraphy (LSFG). Patients were re-examined after a median interval of 3 months from the baseline visit.
LHON carriers had higher values of RNFL thickness, GCIPL thickness, and disk area than controls (P < 0.05), whereas MT was not different between the two groups (P = 0.936). Median MT and RNFL thickness were 32% and 15% higher in the early subacute stage of the disease than in controls (P < 0.001 and P = 0.001). MT declined below the values of controls during the late subacute stage (P = 0.024), whereas RNFL thickness declined later during the dynamic stage (P < 0.001). GCIPL thickness was lower in patients with LHON than in controls independently of the stage of the disease (P < 0.001).
The high blood flow at the optic disk during the early subacute stage may be the consequence of vasodilation due to nitric oxide release as compensation to mitochondrial impairment. Optic disk perfusion as measured by LSFG is a promising biomarker for LHON diagnosis and monitoring as well as an objective outcome measure for assessing response to therapies.
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