Date of Original Version
Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
The retinal neurovascular unit consists of blood vessel endothelial cells, pericytes, neurons, astrocytes, and Müller cells that form the inner retinal blood barrier. A peripheral capillary free zone (pCFZ) represents the distance that oxygen and nutrients must diffuse to reach the neural retina, and serves as a metric of retinal tissue oxygenation. The pCFZs are formed based on oxygen saturation in the retinal arterioles and venules. Because retinal arterioles contain a larger concentration of oxygenated blood than venules, there is a reduced need for capillaries to exist closely to arterioles compared to venules. Therefore, in a healthy individual, larger periarteriole CFZs are expected compared to perivenule CFZs. With normal aging, there is atrophy of the inner retinal neurons, and consequently reduced extraction of oxygen and nutrients from the retinal vessels (i.e., increased oxygen saturation). Therefore, we hypothesized that the peripheral CFZ will remodel with normal aging. Using Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography, we showed that the pCFZs do remodel in normal aging with large (perivenule: η2p = 0.56) and moderate (periarteriole: η2p = 0.12) effect sizes, opening the possibility that such changes may be further increased by neurodegenerative diseases that adversely impact the health of the retinal neural cell layers.
Arthur, E., Alber, J., Thompson, L.I. et al. OCTA reveals remodeling of the peripheral capillary free zones in normal aging. Sci Rep 11, 15593 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95230-0
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95230-0
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