Reliability of VEP Recordings Using Chronically Implanted Screw Electrodes in Mice

Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2015 Apr 28;4(2):15. doi: 10.1167/tvst.4.2.15. eCollection 2015 Apr.


Purpose: Visual evoked potentials (VEPs) are widely used to objectively assess visual system function in animal models of ophthalmological diseases. Although use of chronically implanted electrodes is common in longitudinal VEP studies using rodent models, reliability of recordings over time has not been assessed. We compared VEPs 1 and 7 days after electrode implantation in the adult mouse. We also examined stimulus-independent changes over time, by assessing electroencephalogram (EEG) power and approximate entropy of the EEG signal.

Methods: Stainless steel screws (600-μm diameter) were implanted into the skull overlying the right visual cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex of adult mice (C57Bl/6J, n = 7). Animals were reanesthetized 1 and 7 days after implantation to record VEP responses (flashed gratings) and EEG activity. Brain sections were stained for glial activation (GFAP) and cell death (TUNEL).

Results: Reliability analysis, using intraclass correlation coefficients, showed VEP recordings had high reliability within the same session, regardless of time after electrode implantation and peak latencies and approximate entropy of the EEG did not change significantly with time. However, there was poorer reliability between recordings obtained on different days, and a significant decrease in VEP amplitudes and EEG power. This amplitude decrease could be normalized by scaling to EEG power (within-subjects). Furthermore, glial activation was present at both time points but there was no evidence of cell death.

Conclusions: These results indicate that VEP responses can be reliably recorded even after a relatively short recovery period but decrease response peak amplitude over time. Although scaling the VEP trace to EEG power normalized this decrease, our results highlight that time-dependent cortical excitability changes are an important consideration in longitudinal VEP studies.

Translational relevance: This study shows changes in VEP characteristics over time in chronically implanted mice. Thus, future preclinical longitudinal studies should consider time in addition to amplitude and latency when designing and interpreting research.

Keywords: approximate entropy; chronic electrode implant; electroencephalogram; reliability; visual evoke potential.