Purpose Mutations of the gene encoding RPE65 cause Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The optical coherence tomography (OCT) is increasingly utilized to noninvasively evaluate various types of retinal diseases, including RP. The present study was conducted to characterize the OCT findings of the RPE65 − / − mice—an animal model of LCA and RP—in relation to the morphological features based on histological and electron microscopic findings as well as electroretinography (ERG) features. Materials and methods RPE65 − / − mice were employed as a model of retinal degeneration. C57BL/6J mice were used as a wild-type control. OCT was performed on the RPE65 − / − mice from postnatal day (P) 22 to 170. The longitudinal changes in the OCT images and fundus pictures were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively in comparison to those of C57BL/6J mice. The OCT images were also compared to the histological and electron microscopic findings. Full field combined rod and cone ERG was performed to analyze the relationship between morphology based on OCT and the amplitudes of the a- and b-waves. Results In the RPE65 − / − mice, the photoreceptor rod and cone layer appeared as a diffuse hyperreflective zone contiguous with the inner segment ellipsoid zone (IS-EZ) on OCT, even on P22, whereas the IS-EZ and interdigitation zone were clearly identified in the age-matched C57BL/6J mice. The histological analyses revealed that the regular arrangement of the photoreceptor inner and outer segments was gradually lost in the RPE65 -/- mice. On electron microscopy, most of the rod outer segments were degenerated from P21 to P35, whereas outer segments became variably shorter after P49 although ultrastructure appeared to normalize. The thickness of the outer nuclear layer of RPE65 − / − mice was slowly and progressively reduced in comparison to C57BL/6J mice. Although the thickness of the inner and outer segment layer of RPE65 − / − mice was significantly decreased in comparison to C57BL/6J mice, the change was not progressive, at least until P170. Even at P35, the amplitudes of both a- and b-waves on ERG were severely deteriorated in comparison to those of C57BL/6J mice. Mottled depigmented spots appeared throughout the fundus in RPE65 − /− mice after P72, and were detected as hyperreflective deposits under the retinal pigment epithelium on OCT. Discussion The pathological changes in the inner and outer segments layer of RPE65 − / − mice were identified as diffuse hyperreflective changes on OCT. The rod outer segments showed degeneration in the early postnatal periods but became morphologically normalized in the disc structure after P49, although the sizes of the length of the rod outer segments were variable. OCT could not qualitatively differentiate the early degeneration of rods from the late variability in size of rods. Although the morphology of the photoreceptor outer segments was relatively preserved in the RPE65 − / − mice, the amplitudes of ERG were severely disturbed. These structural and functional deficits may be derived from the defective supply of 11-cis-retinol to the photoreceptors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)