Although elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and age are major risk factors for glaucoma, their effects on glaucoma pathogenesis remain unclear. This study examined the onset and progression of glaucomatous changes to ocular anatomy and physiology, structural and physiological brain integrity, and visuomotor behavior in the DBA/2J mice via non-invasive tonometry, multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and optokinetic assessments from 5 to 12 months of age. Using T2-weighted MRI, diffusion tensor MRI, and manganese-enhanced MRI, increasing IOP elevation at 9 and 12 months old coincided with anterior chamber deepening, altered fractional anisotropy and radial diffusivity of the optic nerve and optic tract, as well as reduced anterograde manganese transport along the visual pathway respectively in the DBA/2J mice. Vitreous body elongation and visuomotor function deterioration were observed until 9 months old, whereas axial diffusivity only decreased at 12 months old in diffusion tensor MRI. Under the same experimental settings, C57BL/6J mice only showed modest age-related changes. Taken together, these results indicate that the anterior and posterior visual pathways of the DBA/2J mice exhibit differential susceptibility to glaucomatous neurodegeneration observable by in vivo multi-modal examinations.
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