The retina is nourished by two unique (retinal and choroidal) circulations. The lack of depth-resolved blood volume (BV) imaging techniques hampers investigation of vascular-specific regulation of the retina in vivo. This study presents a high-resolution, laminar-specific magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study to image retinal and choroidal BVs, their responses to physiologic challenges in normal and Royal-College-of-Surgeons (RCS) rats (a model of retinal degeneration). Retinal and choroidal BVs were imaged by MRI (30 × 30 × 800 μ) with intravascular administration of monocrystalline iron oxide nanocolloid (MION) contrast agent. Relative baseline BV and BV changes due to physiologic challenges were calculated in normal and RCS rat retinas. BV-MRI revealed two well-resolved retinal and choroidal vascular layers located on either side of the retina and an intervening avascular layer. The ratio of choroidal:retinal BV in normal rats at baseline was 9.8 ± 3.2 in control rat retinas (N=7). Hyperoxia decreased retinal BV (- 51 ± 17%, p < 0.05) more than choroidal BV (- 28 ± 14%), and hypercapnia increased retinal BV (52 ± 11%, p < 0.01) more than choroidal BV (12 ± 11%). BV-MRI in degenerated retinas of RCS rats (N=7) revealed thinning of the avascular layer and an increase in relative baseline retinal and choroidal BVs. Only hypercapnia-induced BV changes in the retinal vasculature of RCS rats were significantly different (smaller) from controls (p < 0.05).These findings suggest that BV in both retinal vasculatures is regulated. The relative baseline BV in both vasculatures increased in retinal degeneration. BV-MRI provides clinically relevant data that may prove useful for early detection and longitudinal probing of retinal diseases, and could complement optical imaging techniques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience