Impaired retinal microcirculation in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2016 Dec;22(14):1812-1820. doi: 10.1177/1352458516631035. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Background: The transparent ocular structure enables quantitative analysis of microvasculature of retina, a neuronal tissue affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether the retinal blood flow velocity and flow volume at the macula are impaired in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

Methods: A total of 17 RRMS patients and 17 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects were assessed. A retinal function imager was used to measure the blood flow velocity of retinal arterioles and venules and to calculate the total perifoveal blood flow volume.

Results: The blood flow velocities of the retinal arterioles (3.34 ± 0.89 mm/s) and venules (2.61 ± 0.6 mm/s) were significantly lower in MS patients than normal subjects (arteriole: 4.10 ± 0.87 mm/s; venule: 3.22 ± 0.65 mm/s, both p = 0.01). In addition, the total perifoveal blood flow volume in arterioles (3.74 ± 1.64 nL/s) and venules (3.81 ± 1.60 nL/s) were significantly lower in MS patients than in normal subjects (arteriole: 4.87 ± 1.41 nL/s, p = 0.02; venule: 4.71 ± 1.64 nL/s, p = 0.04).

Conclusion: The impaired retinal microcirculation in RRMS patients indicates microvascular dysfunction in MS.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; blood flow velocity; blood flow volume; retinal function imager; retinal microcirculation; retinal nerve fiber layer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / physiopathology*
  • Optical Imaging
  • Retinal Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Retinal Vessels / physiopathology*