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In Vivo Imaging of Subretinal Bleb-Induced Outer Retinal Degeneration in the Rabbit.

ABSTRACT

To analyze the morphologic effects of subretinal blebs in rabbits using real-time imaging by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), infrared-confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (IR-cSLO), and blue-light fundus autofluorescence (BAF).Subretinal blebs of PBS or balanced salt solution (BSS) were induced in albino or pigmented rabbits using a transvitreal pars plana technique. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, IR-cSLO, and BAF were done at multiple intervals for up to 12 weeks after subretinal bleb injection. The morphologic effects were compared with histologic analysis on hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections of the neurosensory retina and on flat-mounts of phalloidin-labeled RPE.Scans of SD-OCT of the normal rabbit posterior segment revealed 11 bands including six layers of the photoreceptors. Subretinal blebs of PBS or BSS caused acute swelling of the neurosensory retina followed by gradual atrophy. Outer retinal thickness was significantly reduced with pronounced degeneration of all the photoreceptor OCT layers. En face IR-cSLO showed a hyperreflective area corresponding to the progressive photoreceptor degeneration, whereas BAF revealed both hyper- and hypofluorescent changes in the RPE layer. The in vivo results were confirmed by histology and on subretinal flatmounts demonstrating extensive photoreceptor loss and disruption of the RPE mosaic.Subretinal blebs induce pronounced photoreceptor degeneration and RPE changes in the rabbit as demonstrated by in vivo imaging using SD-OCT, IR-cSLO, and BAF.