Background: Since adult mammalian retinal ganglion cells cannot regenerate after injury, we have recently established a whole-eye transplantation (WET) rat model that provides an intact optical system to investigate potential surgical restoration of irreversible vision loss. However, it remains to be elucidated whether physiological axoplasmic transport exists in the transplanted visual pathway. New Method: We developed an in vivo imaging model system to assess WET integration using manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI) in rats. Since Mn2+ is a calcium analogue and an active T1-positive contrast agent, the levels of anterograde manganese transport can be evaluated in the visual pathways upon intravitreal Mn2+ administration into both native and transplanted eyes. Results: No significant intraocular pressure difference was found between native and transplanted eyes, whereas comparable manganese enhancement was observed between native and transplanted intraorbital optic nerves, suggesting the presence of anterograde manganese transport after WET. No enhancement was detected across the coaptation site in the higher visual areas of the recipient brain. Comparison with Existing Methods: Existing imaging methods to assess WET focus on either the eye or local optic nerve segments without direct visualization and longitudinal quantification of physiological transport along the transplanted visual pathway, hence the development of in vivo MEMRI. Conclusion: Our established imaging platform indicated that essential physiological transport exists in the transplanted optic nerve after WET. As neuroregenerative approaches are being developed to connect the transplanted eye to the recipient's brain, in vivo MEMRI is well-suited to guide strategies for successful WET integration for vision restoration.
- Contrast Media/metabolism
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
- Optic Nerve/diagnostic imaging
- Visual Pathways/diagnostic imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas