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Huber, Gesine (2010): Noninvasive assessment of retinal morphology in mice using optical coherence tomography. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
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Abstract

Animal models are important organisms in many areas of science. They play a key role in experimental ophthalmology because they help to understand a variety of genetical, developmental, and disease mechanisms and to develop new pharmaceutical and gene therapies. Especially mice are valuable models to identify the genes involved in vision because of the availability of diverse genetically modified strains and the ease with which single gene mutants can be generated. The retina as part of the brain offers the opportunity to directly visualize changes associated with neurodegenerative disorders and vascular alterations. There are both morphological and functional approaches to characterize disease phenotypes, to monitor disease progression, and to evaluate the responsiveness to therapy, which can either be performed in living animals (in vivo) or in respective ocular tissue (in vitro). Whereas most functional tests, namely electroretinography (ERG), are performed in vivo, practically all morphological methods, like histology, are so far performed in vitro. The current need to sacrifice animals for histological examinations at different time points interferes with the ability to follow up disease processes and to monitor therapeutic or side effects during the preclinical assessment of novel genetical and pharmaceutical therapy strategies over time in the same individuals. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a novel technique to assess retinal morphology in vivo. Commercially available OCTs have been designed for clinical investigations in human ophthalmology. In this work, the establishment of a commercially available OCT for the in vivo analysis of mouse models of retinal degenerations is reported.