In vivo MRI evaluation of anterograde manganese transport along the visual pathway following whole eye transplantation.
BACKGROUND: Since adult mammalian retinal ganglion cells cannot regenerate after injury, we have recently established a whole-eye transplantation (WET) rat model that provides an intact optical system to investigate potential surgical restoration of irreversible vision loss. However, it remains to be elucidated whether physiological axoplasmic transport exists in the transplanted visual pathway.
NEW METHOD: We developed an in vivo imaging model system to assess WET integration using manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI) in rats. Since Mn
RESULTS: No significant intraocular pressure difference was found between native and transplanted eyes, whereas comparable manganese enhancement was observed between native and transplanted intraorbital optic nerves, suggesting the presence of anterograde manganese transport after WET. No enhancement was detected across the coaptation site in the higher visual areas of the recipient brain.
COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHODS: Existing imaging methods to assess WET focus on either the eye or local optic nerve segments without direct visualization and longitudinal quantification of physiological transport along the transplanted visual pathway, hence the development of in vivo MEMRI.
CONCLUSION: Our established imaging platform indicated that essential physiological transport exists in the transplanted optic nerve after WET. As neuroregenerative approaches are being developed to connect the transplanted eye to the recipient's brain, in vivo MEMRI is well-suited to guide strategies for successful WET integration for vision restoration.