Journal Article

An investigation of the retinal nerve fibre layer in progressive multiple sclerosis using optical coherence tomography

Andrew P. D. Henderson, S. Anand Trip, Patricio G. Schlottmann, Daniel R. Altmann, David F. Garway-Heath, Gordon T. Plant and David H. Miller

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 131, issue 1, pages 277-287
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online December 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awm285
An investigation of the retinal nerve fibre layer in progressive multiple sclerosis using optical coherence tomography

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Axonal loss is thought to be the predominant cause of disability in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) is composed largely of unmyelinated axons of retinal ganglion cells, and is accessible to study with optical coherence tomography (OCT), giving a measure of axonal loss. OCT measures of the RNFL thickness (RNFLT) and macular volume were studied in 23 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (primary progressive MS) (13 male; 10 female; mean age 52 years; median EDSS 6.0; mean disease duration 11 years), and 27 patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (secondary progressive MS) (8 male; 19 female; mean age 50 years; median EDSS 6; mean disease duration 22 years). Of the patients with secondary progressive MS, 14 had clinical history of optic neuritis (ON) in a single eye; the remaining patients had not had ON. Twenty healthy controls (11 male; 9 female; mean age 46 years) had RNFLT and macular volume studied. Of the patients’ eyes not previously affected by ON, both the mean RNFL thickness and macular volume were reduced when compared with control values. The mean RNFL thickness and macular volume were significantly reduced in secondary progressive MS, but not in primary progressive MS when compared with control RNFL thickness and macular volume. RNFL loss was most evident in the temporal quadrant, where significant reduction was seen in primary progressive MS versus controls and in secondary versus primary progressive MS. There were significant correlations of decreased RNFLT and macular volume with measures of visual acuity, low contrast visual acuity and visual field mean deviation in the MS patients. There are significant global reductions in RNFLT and macular volume in the eyes of secondary progressive MS patients not previously affected by ON, but not in primary progressive MS patients, compared with controls. This may indicate a difference in the extent of the pathological processes that cause axonal loss in the retina, and by inference the optic nerve, in secondary progressive MS and primary progressive MS.

Keywords: retinal nerve fibre layer; optical coherence tomography; multiple sclerosis; axonal degeneration

Journal Article.  7060 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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