Diffusion Basis Spectrum Imaging Detects Axonal Loss After Transient Dexamethasone Treatment in Optic Neuritis Mice

Tsen-Hsuan Lin., Jie Zhan., Chunyu Song, Michael Wallendorf, Peng Sun., Xuan Niu., Ruimeng Yang., Anne H Cross., Sheng-Kwei Song. Front. Neurosci., 22 January 2021 Read More


Optic neuritis is a frequent first symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) for which corticosteroids are a widely employed treatment option. The Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial (ONTT) reported that corticosteroid treatment does not improve long-term visual acuity, although the evolution of underlying pathologies is unclear. In this study, we employed non-invasive diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI)-derived fiber volume to quantify 11% axonal loss 2 months after corticosteroid treatment (vs. baseline) in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse optic nerves affected by optic neuritis. Longitudinal DBSI was performed at baseline (before immunization), after a 2-week corticosteroid treatment period, and 1 and 2 months after treatment, followed by histological validation of neuropathology. Pathological metrics employed to assess the optic nerve revealed axonal protection and anti-inflammatory effects of dexamethasone treatment that were transient. Two months after treatment, axonal injury and loss were indistinguishable between PBS- and dexamethasone-treated optic nerves, similar to results of the human ONTT. Our findings in mice further support that corticosteroid treatment alone is not sufficient to prevent eventual axonal loss in ON, and strongly support the potential of DBSI as an in vivo imaging outcome measure to assess optic nerve pathology.

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Posted on February 23, 2021
Posted in: Axon Injury & Repair, Publications Authors: ,