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Brain. 2020 Mar 12. pii: awaa049. doi: 10.1093/brain/awaa049. [Epub ahead of print]

Anterior visual system imaging to investigate energy failure in multiple sclerosis.

Kleerekooper I1,2,3, Petzold A1,2,3,4, Trip SA1,2.

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Department of Neuroinflammation, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK.
The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, UK.
Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, London, UK.
Dutch Expertise Centre Neuro-ophthalmology and MS Centre Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Mitochondrial failure and hypoxia are key contributors to multiple sclerosis pathophysiology. Importantly, improving mitochondrial function holds promise as a new therapeutic strategy in multiple sclerosis. Currently, studying mitochondrial changes in multiple sclerosis is hampered by a paucity of non-invasive techniques to investigate mitochondrial function of the CNS in vivo. It is against this backdrop that the anterior visual system provides new avenues for monitoring of mitochondrial changes. The retina and optic nerve are among the metabolically most active structures in the human body and are almost always affected to some degree in multiple sclerosis. Here, we provide an update on emerging technologies that have the potential to indirectly monitor changes of metabolism and mitochondrial function. We report on the promising work with optical coherence tomography, showing structural changes in outer retinal mitochondrial signal bands, and with optical coherence angiography, quantifying retinal perfusion at the microcapillary level. We show that adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy can visualize live perfusion through microcapillaries and structural changes at the level of single photoreceptors and neurons. Advantages and limitations of these techniques are summarized with regard to future research into the pathology of the disease and as trial outcome measures.


energy; metabolism; mitochondria; multiple sclerosis; retinal imaging


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