Purpose: This study ims to investigate quantitative basal blood flow as well as hypercapnia- and hyperoxia-induced blood flow changes in the retinas of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats with spontaneous retinal degeneration, and to compare with those of normal rat retinas. Methods: Experiments were performed on male RCS rats at postnatal days P90 (n=4) and P220 (n=5), and on age-matched controls at P90 (n=7) and P220 (n=6). Hyperoxic (100% O2) and hypercapnic (5% CO2, 21% O2, balance N2) challenges were used to modulate blood flow. Quantitative baseline blood flow, and hypercapnia- and hyperoxia-induced blood flow changes in the retinas were imaged using continuous arterial spin labeling MRI at 90×90×1500 μm. Results. In the normal rat retinas, basal blood flow of the whole-retina was 5.5 mL/gram per min, significantly higher than those reported in the brain (~1 mL/gram per min). Hyperoxia decreased blood flow due to vasoconstriction and hypercapnia increased blood flow due to vasodilation in the normal retinas. In the RCS rat retinas, basal blood flow was diminished significantly (P<0.05). Interestingly, absolute hyperoxia- and hypercapnia-induced blood flow changes in the RCS retinas were not statistically different from those in the normal retinas (P>0.05). However, blood flow percent changes in RCS retinas were significantly larger than in normal retinas due to lower basal blood flow in the RCS retinas. Conclusions: Retinal degeneration markedly reduces basal blood flow but does not appear to impair vascular reactivity. These data also suggest caution when interpreting relative stimulus-evoked functional MRI changes in diseased states where basal parameters are significantly perturbed. Quantitative blood flow MRI may serve as a valuable tool to study the retina without depth limitation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience