Magnetic resonance imaging of retinal physiology and anatomy in mice
Muir, Eric R.
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MRI can provide anatomical, functional, and physiological images at relatively high spatial resolution and is non-invasive and does not have depth limitation. However, the application of MRI to study the retina is difficult due to the very small size of the retina. This thesis details the development of MRI methods to image blood flow (BF), anatomy, and function of the retina and choroid, and their application to two diseases of the retina: diabetic retinopathy and retinal degeneration. A unique continuous arterial spin labeling technique was developed to image BF in mice and tested by imaging cerebral BF. This method was then applied to image layer-specific BF of the retina and choroid in mice, and to acquire BF functional MRI of the retina and choroid in response to hypoxic challenge. Additionally blood oxygen level dependent functional MRI of the mouse retina and choroid in response to hypoxic challenge was obtained using a balanced steady state free precession sequence which provides fast acquisition, has high signal to noise ratio, and does not have geometric distortion or signal dropout artifacts. In a mouse model of diabetic retinopathy, MRI detected reduced retinal BF in diabetic animals. Visual function in the diabetic mice, as determined by psychophysical tests, was also reduced. Finally, in a mouse model of retinal degeneration, BF and anatomical MRI detected reductions of retinal BF and the thickness of the retina. The studies detailed in this thesis demonstrate the feasibility of layer-specific MRI to study BF, anatomy, and function, in the mouse retina. Further, these methods were shown to provide a novel means of studying animal models of retinal disease in vivo.