Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) represents a major cause of childhood vision loss worldwide. The 50/10 oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model mimics the findings of ROP, including peripheral vascular attenuation and neovascularization. The oxygen metabolism of the inner retina has not been previously explored in this model. Using visible-light optical coherence tomography (vis-OCT), we measured the oxygen saturation of hemoglobin and blood flow within inner retinal vessels, enabling us to compute the inner retinal oxygen delivery (irDO 2) and metabolic rate of oxygen (irMRO 2). We compared these measurements between age-matched room-air controls and rats with 50/10 OIR on postnatal day 18. To account for a 61% decrease in the irDO 2 in the OIR group, we found an overall statistically significant decrease in retinal vascular density affecting the superficial and deep retinal vascular capillary networks in rats with OIR compared to controls. Furthermore, matching the reduced irDO 2, we found a 59% decrease in irMRO 2, which we correlated with a statistically significant reduction in retinal thickness in the OIR group, suggesting that the decreased irMRO 2 was due to decreased neuronal oxygen utilization. By exploring these biological and metabolic changes in great detail, our study provides an improved understanding of the pathophysiology of OIR model.
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