A clinically applicable model of retinal oxygen metabolism

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary This proposal seeks to establish a correlation between the metabolism of the inner retina and the oxygen supply from the inner retinal vascular network measured by optical coherence tomography. This work will be done in rats, but will have immediate clinical application. Several important diseases cause damage to the inner retina, including diabetes, glaucoma, and vascular occlusion. Considerable effort has gone into measuring parameters that provide some information about the metabolism of the inner retina, particularly oxygen saturation (sO2) in the retinal vessels and retinal blood flow (RBF), but each alone is insufficient to allow strong conclusions. It has now become possible in animals and humans to measure saturation and blood flow together and combine them to yield the Inner Retinal Metabolic Rate of Oxygen (IRMRO2), which is the total amount of oxygen extracted from the retinal circulation per unit time. These non-invasive measurements of IRMRO2 could potentially be predictive of functional damage in disease before other measures, and could be useful in evaluating treatments for those diseases. The most promising way to measure IRMRO2 is a novel method using visible-light optical coherence tomography (vis-OCT). However, the retina is a unique tissue with a dual blood supply, so further validation is required to understand how the IRMRO2 corresponds to the actual oxygen utilization of the inner retina (IRQO2). It is often assumed that these two quantities are equal, but this is not true. There are conditions under which the retinal circulation provides an important component of the oxygen needed by the photoreceptors in the outer retina, so IRMRO2 overestimates IRQO2, and other conditions under which oxygen derived from the choroid provides oxygen to the inner retina, so that IRMRO2 underestimates IRQO2. If the actual correspondence between IRMRO2 and IRQO2 is not understood, the great promise of the new methods of measuring IRMRO2 will be lost due to confusion and false conclusions. It is really IRQO2 that is needed for understanding the progression of inner retinal changes in diabetes, glaucoma, and vein occlusion. We propose to perform experiments on the same rats with both well-established oxygen-sensitive microelectrode methods and vis-OCT to identify the conditions under which IRMRO2 can be used to infer IRQO2 directly, and to provide a clinically useful model to allow a prediction of the deviations between IRMRO2 and IRQO2. No study has previously used both imaging and microelectrodes in the same animals, or attempted to provide validation of oximetry methods with other methods. The proposed work is important for any method of characterizing IRMRO2, not just vis-OCT. The specific aims are: 1) to develop an analytical model to relate the inner retinal sO2 and rMRO2, measured by vis-OCT, to the metabolic demands of the inner and outer retina in both rats and humans and 2) to validate and refine this model in rats by nearly simultaneous measurement of IRMRO2 and oxygen consumption derived from microelectrode measurements during air breathing in light and darkness, hypoxia and hyperoxia.
Effective start/end date2/1/171/31/20


  • National Eye Institute (5R21EY027502-02 REVISED)


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