Trans-Synaptic Degeneration in the Visual Pathway in Patients With Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein Antibody-Associated Disease

Neurology. 2024 Apr 9;102(7):e209156. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000209156. Epub 2024 Mar 6.


Background and objectives: We aimed to assess the presence of retinal neurodegeneration independent of optic neuritis (ON) in myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease (MOGAD) and to investigate the development of trans-synaptic anterograde degeneration in these patients after ON.

Methods: Cross-sectional, retrospective study of 34 adult patients with MOGAD and 23 healthy controls (HC). Clinical, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and MRI data were collected. Peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (pRNFL) and ganglion cell inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) were obtained using Heidelberg Spectralis. FreeSurfer7 was used to obtain the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), occipital volume fractions (to total estimated intracranial volume), and occipital cortical thickness. For the anterior visual pathway, the analysis was conducted using eyes, classified based on the history of ON (Eye-ON and Eye-NON) and compared with Eye-HC. The analysis of OCT and brain volumetric measures was conducted comparing MOGAD-ON, MOGAD-NON, and HC groups. The analysis of covariance with a Bonferroni-adjusted post hoc test was used to test differences between groups and linear regression analysis to evaluate OCT/MRI associations; age and sex were considered as covariates.

Results: 24 (70.5%) patients had a prior ON. Median pRNFL and GCIPL thickness (um) was significantly reduced in Eye-ON vs EyeNON and HC (pRNFL: 69.4 (17.3), 89.6 (13.7), 98.2 (11.7), p < 0.001; GCIPL: 55.8 (8.7), 67.39 (8.7), 72.6 (4.5), p < 0.001). pRNFL and GCIPL thickness had a negative correlation with the number of ON episodes (p = 0.025 and p = 0.031, respectively). LGN volume fraction was significantly lower in patients with MOGAD-ON than in HC (0.33 (0.05) vs 0.39 (0.04), p = 0.002). The occipital cortical thickness was lower in MOGAD-ON compared with MOGAD-NON and HC (p = 0.010). In patients with MOGAD-ON, pRNFL correlated with LGN volume (p = 0.006), occipital thickness (p = 0.002), and the medial occipital cortex (p = 0.002), but not the lateral occipital lobe.

Discussion: Compared with HC, MOGAD-ON exhibits reduced retinal thickness, primarily influenced by the presence and the number of prior ON episodes. Moreover, MOGAD-ON demonstrates significant atrophy in the retinal, subcortical, and cortical regions of the visual pathway, distinguishing them from MOGAD-NON and HC. These findings suggest that in patients with MOGAD neurodegeneration is tightly correlated with damage to the involved pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Myelin-Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein
  • Optic Neuritis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Retina
  • Retrograde Degeneration
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Pathways* / diagnostic imaging


  • Myelin-Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein