Modeling MOG Antibody-Associated Disorder and Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder in Animal Models: Visual System Manifestations

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2023 Jul 10;10(5):e200141. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000200141. Print 2023 Sep.


Background and objectives: Mechanisms of visual impairment in aquaporin 4 antibody (AQP4-IgG) seropositive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody (MOG-IgG)-associated disorder (MOGAD) are incompletely understood. The respective impact of optic nerve demyelination and primary and secondary retinal neurodegeneration are yet to be investigated in animal models.

Methods: Active MOG35-55 experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) was induced in C57BL/6Jrj mice, and monoclonal MOG-IgG (8-18C5, murine), recombinant AQP4-IgG (rAb-53, human), or isotype-matched control IgG (Iso-IgG, human) was administered 10 days postimmunization. Mobility impairment was scored daily. Visual acuity by optomotor reflex and ganglion cell complex thickness (GCC, 3 innermost retinal layers) by optical coherence tomography (OCT) were longitudinally assessed. Histopathology of optic nerve and retina was investigated during presymptomatic, acute, and chronic disease phases for immune cells, demyelination, complement deposition, natural killer (NK) cell, AQP4, and astrocyte involvement, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), and Müller cell activation. Groups were compared by nonparametric tests with a p value <0.05 indicating statistical significance.

Results: Visual acuity decreased from baseline to chronic phase in MOG-IgG (mean ± standard error of the mean: 0.54 ± 0.01 to 0.46 ± 0.02 cycles/degree, p < 0.05) and AQP4-IgG EAE (0.54 ± 0.01 to 0.43 ± 0.02, cycles/degree, p < 0.05). Immune cell infiltration of optic nerves started in presymptomatic AQP4-IgG, but not in MOG-IgG EAE (5.85 ± 2.26 vs 0.13 ± 0.10 macrophages/region of interest [ROI] and 1.88 ± 0.63 vs 0.15 ± 0.06 T cells/ROI, both p < 0.05). Few NK cells, no complement deposition, and stable glial fibrillary acid protein and AQP4 fluorescence intensity characterized all EAE optic nerves. Lower GCC thickness (Spearman correlation coefficient r = -0.44, p < 0.05) and RGC counts (r = -0.47, p < 0.05) correlated with higher mobility impairment. RGCs decreased from presymptomatic to chronic disease phase in MOG-IgG (1,705 ± 51 vs 1,412 ± 45, p < 0.05) and AQP4-IgG EAE (1,758 ± 14 vs 1,526 ± 48, p < 0.01). Müller cell activation was not observed in either model.

Discussion: In a multimodal longitudinal characterization of visual outcome in animal models of MOGAD and NMOSD, differential retinal injury and optic nerve involvement were not conclusively clarified. Yet optic nerve inflammation was earlier in AQP4-IgG-associated pathophysiology. Retinal atrophy determined by GCC thickness (OCT) and RGC counts correlating with mobility impairment in the chronic phase of MOG-IgG and AQP4-IgG EAE may serve as a generalizable marker of neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Autoantibodies
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuromyelitis Optica*
  • Optic Nerve


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal