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In vivo assessment of thickness and reflectivity in a rat outer retinal degeneration model with ultrahigh resolution optical coherence tomography.


To provide in vivo quantitative assessment of sodium iodate-induced retinal damage in a rat model of outer retinal degeneration using ultrahigh resolution optical coherence tomography (UHR-OCT).Outer retinal degeneration was induced in four female Long Evans rats via tail vein injection of sodium iodate (40 mg/kg). Changes in the thickness and optical reflectivity of individual retinal layers were extracted using a semi-automatic segmentation algorithm and were assessed in vivo at 6 hours, days 1, 3, and 7, and up to 3 months post injection with UHR-OCT. Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) histology was used to confirm the morphologic changes observed in the UHR-OCT images.UHR-OCT tomograms showed progressive structural damage in the rat retina over time, such as swelling, thinning, complete disintegration of individual retinal layers, and clustering of highly reflective cellular debris. Photoreceptor swelling was observed 6 hours after injection of sodium iodate, followed by progressive structural decomposition of the outer retina. At 3 months post injection, the outer retina was completely disintegrated, and the inner nuclear layer (INL) was in direct contact with the choroid. Changes in the reflectivity of individual retinal layers were observed over time and correlated well with the morphologic changes.UHR-OCT permits in vivo, noninvasive, longitudinal, quantitative assessment of the progressive changes in retinal morphology and optical reflectivity in a sodium iodate rodent model of outer retinal degeneration.