Retinal microvascular and neuronal function in patients with multiple sclerosis: 2-year follow-up

Qi Chen, Min Fang, Shahnaz Miri, Kinjal Thakor, Silvia Delgado, Jeffrey Hernandez, Diego Eduardo Alba, Giovanni Gregori, Vittorio Porciatti, Jianhua Wang, Hong Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the longitudinal changes in retinal microstructure, microvasculature, microcirculation, and axonal and neuronal functions in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) over the time course of about two years. Methods: A total of 30 patients (60 eyes) with RRMS were followed for a period of 27 ± 6 months and evaluated with a battery of clinical tests including low contrast letter acuity (LCLA), intraretinal layer thicknesses by optical coherence tomography (OCT), ganglion cell function by steady-state pattern electroretinography (PERG), axonal function by polarization-sensitive OCT, volumetric vessel density (VVD) by OCT angiography, and retinal tissue perfusion (RTP) by retinal function imager. Results: Axonal function measured as retinal nerve fiber layer birefringence in the temporal quadrant and vessel density in the deep vascular plexus were significantly decreased at 2-year follow-up (P < 0.05). Subgroup analyses showed that the increased retinal blood flow volume occurred in patients with no evidence of disease activity (NEDA), and with stable or improved visual function (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference in the expanded disability state scale, LCLA, RTP, VVD, or PERG measures between the two visits (P > 0.05). Conclusion: To our best knowledge, this is the first 2-year prospective comprehensive study with a detailed assessment of retinal microstructure and neuronal functions in patients with RRMS. The recovery of retinal microcirculation occurred in patients with NEDA, and stable or improved visual function, suggesting these measurements as potential imaging biomarkers for monitoring disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103314
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Birefringence
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Retinal microstructure
  • Retinal microvasculature
  • Retinal nerve fiber layer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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