Outer retinal changes following acute optic neuritis

Mult Scler. 2016 Mar;22(3):362-72. doi: 10.1177/1352458515590646. Epub 2015 Jul 24.


Background: Retinal nerve fiber and ganglion cell+inner plexiform (GCIP) layer thinning following multiple sclerosis-related acute optic neuritis (AON) is well described. However, whether AON results in changes in the inner nuclear (INL), outer plexiform (OPL), outer nuclear (ONL) and/or photoreceptor segment (PS) layers remains undetermined.

Objectives: The objective of this paper is to determine if INL+OPL and/or ONL+PS changes occur following AON.

Methods: Thirty-three AON patients underwent serial optical coherence tomography (OCT) and visual function testing (mean follow-up: 25 months). Longitudinal changes in retinal layer thickness were analyzed using mixed-effects linear regression.

Results: Four months following AON, the mean decrease in GCIP thickness relative to baseline was 11.4% (p < 0.001). At four months, a concomitant 3.4% increase in average ONL+PS thickness was observed (p < 0.001). The percentage decrease in GCIP thickness and increase in ONL+PS thickness were strongly correlated (r = -0.70; p < 0.001). Between months 4 to 12, ONL+PS thickness declined and, at 12 months, was no longer significantly different from baseline (mean change: 0.5%; p = 0.37). Similar, albeit less robust, changes in the INL+OPL were observed.

Conclusions: Following AON, dynamic changes occur in the deep retinal layers, which are proportional to GCIP thinning. These novel findings help further our understanding of the biological and/or anatomical sequelae resulting from AON.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; optic nerve injuries; optic neuritis; optical coherence tomography; retinal ganglion cells; retinal photoreceptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Optic Neuritis / pathology
  • Optic Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Visual Acuity