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Concept: Optic nerve


Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging flavivirus that causes congenital abnormalities and Guillain-Barré syndrome. ZIKV infection also results in severe eye disease characterized by optic neuritis, chorioretinal atrophy, and blindness in newborns and conjunctivitis and uveitis in adults. We evaluated ZIKV infection of the eye by using recently developed mouse models of pathogenesis. ZIKV-inoculated mice developed conjunctivitis, panuveitis, and infection of the cornea, iris, optic nerve, and ganglion and bipolar cells in the retina. This phenotype was independent of the entry receptors Axl or Mertk, given that Axl(-/-), Mertk(-/-), and Axl(-/-)Mertk(-/-) double knockout mice sustained levels of infection similar to those of control animals. We also detected abundant viral RNA in tears, suggesting that virus might be secreted from lacrimal glands or shed from the cornea. This model provides a foundation for studying ZIKV-induced ocular disease, defining mechanisms of viral persistence, and developing therapeutic approaches for viral infections of the eye.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene, Virus, Infection, Eye, Ophthalmology, Tears, Optic nerve


Retinal prosthesis technologies require that the visual system downstream of the retinal circuitry be capable of transmitting and elaborating visual signals. We studied the capability of plastic remodeling in late blind subjects implanted with the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis with psychophysics and functional MRI (fMRI). After surgery, six out of seven retinitis pigmentosa (RP) blind subjects were able to detect high-contrast stimuli using the prosthetic implant. However, direction discrimination to contrast modulated stimuli remained at chance level in all of them. No subject showed any improvement of contrast sensitivity in either eye when not using the Argus II. Before the implant, the Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) activity in V1 and the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) was very weak or absent. Surprisingly, after prolonged use of Argus II, BOLD responses to visual input were enhanced. This is, to our knowledge, the first study tracking the neural changes of visual areas in patients after retinal implant, revealing a capacity to respond to restored visual input even after years of deprivation.

Concepts: Retina, Visual perception, Visual system, Prosthetics, Retinitis pigmentosa, Thalamus, Lateral geniculate nucleus, Optic nerve


Vision loss after optic neuropathy is considered irreversible. Here, repetitive transorbital alternating current stimulation (rtACS) was applied in partially blind patients with the goal of activating their residual vision.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Electricity, Electromagnetic radiation, Electric current, Glaucoma, Ophthalmology, Alternating current, Optic nerve


Information about self-motion and obstacles in the environment is encoded by optic flow, the movement of images on the eye. Decades of research have revealed that flying insects control speed, altitude, and trajectory by a simple strategy of maintaining or balancing the translational velocity of images on the eyes, known as pattern velocity. It has been proposed that birds may use a similar algorithm but this hypothesis has not been tested directly. We examined the influence of pattern velocity on avian flight by manipulating the motion of patterns on the walls of a tunnel traversed by Anna’s hummingbirds. Contrary to prediction, we found that lateral course control is not based on regulating nasal-to-temporal pattern velocity. Instead, birds closely monitored feature height in the vertical axis, and steered away from taller features even in the absence of nasal-to-temporal pattern velocity cues. For vertical course control, we observed that birds adjusted their flight altitude in response to upward motion of the horizontal plane, which simulates vertical descent. Collectively, our results suggest that birds avoid collisions using visual cues in the vertical axis. Specifically, we propose that birds monitor the vertical extent of features in the lateral visual field to assess distances to the side, and vertical pattern velocity to avoid collisions with the ground. These distinct strategies may derive from greater need to avoid collisions in birds, compared with small insects.

Concepts: Scientific method, Insect, Optic nerve, Horizontal plane, Flight, Flying and gliding animals, Insect flight, Bird flight


OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of clinical and radiologic disease activity on the rate of thinning of the ganglion cell/inner plexiform (GCIP) layer and the retinal nerve fiber layer in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) using optical coherence tomography (OCT). METHODS: One hundred sixty-four patients with MS and 59 healthy controls underwent spectral-domain OCT scans every 6 months for a mean follow-up period of 21.1 months. Baseline and annual contrast-enhanced brain MRIs were performed. Patients who developed optic neuritis during follow-up were excluded from analysis. RESULTS: Patients with the following features of disease activity during follow-up had faster rates of annualized GCIP thinning: relapses (42% faster, p = 0.007), new gadolinium-enhancing lesions (54% faster, p < 0.001), and new T2 lesions (36% faster, p = 0.02). Annual GCIP thinning was 37% faster in those with disability progression during follow-up, and 43% faster in those with disease duration <5 years vs >5 years (p = 0.003). Annual rates of GCIP thinning were highest in patients exhibiting combinations of new gadolinium-enhancing lesions, new T2 lesions, and disease duration <5 years (70% faster in patients with vs without all 3 characteristics, p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: MS patients with clinical and/or radiologic nonocular disease activity, particularly early in the disease course, exhibit accelerated GCIP thinning. Our findings suggest that retinal changes in MS reflect global CNS processes, and that OCT-derived GCIP thickness measures may have utility as an outcome measure for assessing neuroprotective agents, particularly in early, active MS.

Concepts: Nervous system, Optics, Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Retina, Optical coherence tomography, Optic nerve, Nerve fiber layer


OBJECTIVES: To assess in a large population of patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) the relevance of brain lesion location and frequency in predicting 1-year conversion to multiple sclerosis (MS). METHODS: In this multicenter, retrospective study, clinical and MRI data at onset and clinical follow-up at 1 year were collected for 1,165 patients with CIS. On T2-weighted MRI, we generated lesion probability maps of white matter (WM) lesion location and frequency. Voxelwise analyses were performed with a nonparametric permutation-based approach (p < 0.05, cluster-corrected). RESULTS: In CIS patients with hemispheric, multifocal, and brainstem/cerebellar onset, lesion probability map clusters were seen in clinically eloquent brain regions. Significant lesion clusters were not found in CIS patients with optic nerve and spinal cord onset. At 1 year, clinically definite MS developed in 26% of patients. The converting group, despite a greater baseline lesion load compared with the nonconverting group (7 ± 8.1 cm(3) vs 4.6 ± 6.7 cm(3), p < 0.001), showed less widespread lesion distribution (18% vs 25% of brain voxels occupied by lesions). High lesion frequency was found in the converting group in projection, association, and commissural WM tracts, with larger clusters being in the corpus callosum, corona radiata, and cingulum. CONCLUSIONS: Higher frequency of lesion occurrence in clinically eloquent WM tracts can characterize CIS subjects with different types of onset. The involvement of specific WM tracts, in particular those traversed by fibers involved in motor function and near the corpus callosum, seems to be associated with a higher risk of clinical conversion to MS in the short term.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Cerebrum, Clinically isolated syndrome, White matter, Corpus callosum, Lesion, Optic nerve


Retinal ischemia occurs in a variety of eye diseases. Restrained blood flow induces retinal damage, which leads to progressive optic nerve degeneration and vision loss. Previous studies indicate that extracellular matrix (ECM) constituents play an important role in complex tissues, such as retina and optic nerve. They have great impact on de- and regeneration processes and represent major candidates of central nervous system glial scar formation. Nevertheless, the importance of the ECM during ischemic retina and optic nerve neurodegeneration is not fully understood yet. In this study, we analyzed remodeling of the extracellular glycoproteins fibronectin, laminin, tenascin-C and tenascin-R and the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) aggrecan, brevican and phosphacan/RPTPβ/ζ in retinae and optic nerves of an ischemia/reperfusion rat model via quantitative real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry and Western blot. A variety of ECM constituents were dysregulated in the retina and optic nerve after ischemia. Regarding fibronectin, significantly elevated mRNA and protein levels were observed in the retina following ischemia, while laminin and tenascin-C showed enhanced immunoreactivity in the optic nerve after ischemia. Interestingly, CSPGs displayed significantly increased expression levels in the optic nerve. Our study demonstrates a dynamic expression of ECM molecules following retinal ischemia, which strengthens their regulatory role during neurodegeneration.

Concepts: Nervous system, Brain, Chondroitin sulfate, Extracellular matrix, Neurology, Retina, Visual system, Optic nerve


Retinal degenerative diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, affect millions of people worldwide and ultimately lead to retinal cell death and blindness. Cell transplantation therapies for photoreceptors demonstrate integration and restoration of function, but transplantation into the ganglion cell layer is more complex, requiring guidance of axons from transplanted cells to the optic nerve head in order to reach targets in the brain. Here we create a biodegradable electrospun (ES) scaffold designed to direct the growth of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons radially, mimicking axon orientation in the retina. Using this scaffold we observed an increase in RGC survival and no significant change in their electrophysiological properties. When analyzed for alignment, 81% of RGCs were observed to project axons radially along the scaffold fibers, with no difference in alignment compared to the nerve fiber layer of retinal explants. When transplanted onto retinal explants, RGCs on ES scaffolds followed the radial pattern of the host retinal nerve fibers, whereas RGCs transplanted directly grew axons in a random pattern. Thus, the use of this scaffold as a cell delivery device represents a significant step towards the use of cell transplant therapies for the treatment of glaucoma and other retinal degenerative diseases.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Action potential, Retina, Eye, Axon, Nerve, Optic nerve


OBJECTIVE: Neuroretinal rim assessment based on the clinical optic disc margin (DM) lacks a sound anatomic basis for 2 reasons: (1) The DM is not reliable as the outer border of rim tissue because of clinically and photographically invisible extensions of Bruch’s membrane (BM) inside the DM and (2) nonaccountability of rim tissue orientation in the optic nerve head (ONH). The BM opening-minimum rim width (BMO-MRW) is a parameter that quantifies the rim from its true anatomic outer border, BMO, and accounts for its variable orientation. We report the diagnostic capability of BMO-MRW. DESIGN: Case control. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with open-angle glaucoma (n = 107) and healthy controls (n = 48). METHODS: Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) with 24 radial and 1 circumpapillary B-scans, centered on the ONH, and confocal scanning laser tomography (CSLT) were performed. The internal limiting membrane (ILM) and BMO were manually segmented in each radial B-scan. Three SD-OCT parameters were computed globally and sectorally: (1) circumpapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (RNFLT); (2) BMO-horizontal rim width (BMO-HRW), the distance between BMO and ILM in the BMO reference plane; and (3) BMO-MRW, the minimum distance between BMO and ILM. Moorfields Regression Analysis (MRA) with CLST was performed globally and sectorally to yield MRA1 and MRA2, where “borderline” was classified as normal and abnormal, respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios (LRs) for positive and negative test results (LR+/LR-). RESULTS: The median (interquartile range) age and mean deviation of patients and controls were 69.9 (64.3-76.9) and 65.0 (58.1-74.3) years and -3.92 (-7.87 to -1.62) and 0.33 (-0.32 to 0.98) dB, respectively. Globally, the BMO-MRW yielded better diagnostic performance than the other parameters. At 95% specificity, the sensitivity of RNFLT, BMO-HRW, and BMO-MRW was 70%, 51%, and 81%, respectively. The corresponding LR+/LR- was 14.0/0.3, 10.2/0.5, and 16.2/0.2. Sectorally, at 95% specificity, the sensitivity of RNFLT ranged from 31% to 59%, of BMO-HRW ranged from 35% to 64%, and of BMO-MRW ranged from 54% to 79%. Globally and in all sectors, BMO-MRW performed better than MRA1 or MRA2. CONCLUSIONS: The higher sensitivity at 95% specificity in early glaucoma of BMO-MRW compared with current BMO methods is significant, indicating a new structural marker for the detection and risk profiling of glaucoma. FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE(S): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

Concepts: Optics, Median, Retina, Eye, Glaucoma, Optic nerve, Blind spot, Nerve fiber layer


Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) describes a first symptomatic neurologic episode that is consistent with multiple sclerosis (MS), lasts at least 24 hours, occurs in the absence of fever or infection, and presents without encephalopathy.(1) Its cause is inflammation or demyelination in one (i.e., monofocal episode) or multiple areas (i.e., multifocal episode) of the CNS. Symptoms are those commonly found in MS and include, for example, optic neuritis, sensory or motor signs, partial myelitis, and bladder or bowel dysfunction.(1).

Concepts: Inflammation, Infection, Multiple sclerosis, Clinically isolated syndrome, Pain, Fever, Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, Optic nerve