Bioluminescence and Near-infrared Imaging of Optic Neuritis and Brain Inflammation in the EAE Model of Multiple Sclerosis in Mice

J Vis Exp. 2017 Mar 1;(121):55321. doi: 10.3791/55321.


Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in SJL/J mice is a model for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Clinical EAE scores describing motor function deficits are basic readouts of the immune-mediated inflammation of the spinal cord. However, scores and body weight do not allow for an in vivo assessment of brain inflammation and optic neuritis. The latter is an early and frequent manifestation in about 2/3 of MS patients. Here, we show methods for bioluminescence and near-infrared live imaging to assess EAE evoked optic neuritis, brain inflammation, and blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption in living mice using an in vivo imaging system. A bioluminescent substrate activated by oxidases primarily showed optic neuritis. The signal was specific and allowed the visualization of medication effects and disease time courses, which paralleled the clinical scores. Pegylated fluorescent nanoparticles that remained within the vasculature for extended periods of time were used to assess the BBB integrity. Near-infrared imaging revealed a BBB leak at the peak of the disease. The signal was the strongest around the eyes. A near-infrared substrate for matrix metalloproteinases was used to assess EAE-evoked inflammation. Auto-fluorescence interfered with the signal, requiring spectral unmixing for quantification. Overall, bioluminescence imaging was a reliable method to assess EAE-associated optic neuritis and medication effects and was superior to the near-infrared techniques in terms of signal specificity, robustness, ease of quantification, and cost.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Luminescent Measurements / instrumentation
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods*
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / etiology
  • Myelitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Myelitis / physiopathology
  • Nanoparticles / analysis
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Optic Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods