Purpose - To demonstrate the utility of a novel in vivo molecular imaging probe, HYPOX-4, to detect and image retinal hypoxia in real time, in a mouse model of retinal vein occlusion (RVO).
Methods - Retinal vein occlusion was achieved in adult mice by photodynamic retinal vein thrombosis (PRVT). One or two major retinal vein(s) was/were occluded in close proximity to the optic nerve head (ONH). In vivo imaging of retinal hypoxia was performed using, HYPOX-4, an imaging probe developed by our laboratory. Pimonidazole-adduct immunostaining was performed and used as a standard ex vivo method for the detection of retinal hypoxia in this mouse RVO model. The retinal vasculature was imaged using fluorescein angiography (FA) and isolectin B4 staining. Retinal thickness was assessed by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) analysis.
Results - By application of the standard ex vivo pimonidazole-adduct immunostaining technique, retinal hypoxia was observed within 2 hours post-PRVT. The observed hypoxic retinal areas depended on whether one or two retinal vein(s) was/were occluded. Similar areas of hypoxia were imaged in vivo using HYPOX-4. Using OCT, retinal edema was observed immediately post-PRVT induction, resolving 8 days later. Nominal preretinal neovascularization was observed at 10 to 14 days post-RVO.
Conclusions - HYPOX-4 is an efficient probe capable of imaging retinal hypoxia in vivo, in RVO mice. Future studies will focus on its use in correlating retinal hypoxia to the onset and progression of ischemic vasculopathies.