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Assessment of Outer Retinal Remodeling in the Hibernating 13-Lined Ground Squirrel


Purpose:We examined outer retinal remodeling of the euthermic and torpid cone-dominant 13-lined ground squirrel (13-LGS) retina using optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging and histology. Methods:Retinas and corneas of living 13-LGSs were imaged during euthermic and torpid physiological states using OCT. Retinal layer thickness was measured at the visual streak from registered and averaged vertical B-scans. Following OCT, some retinas were collected immediately for postmortem histologic comparison using light microscopy, immunofluorescence, or transmission electron microscopy. Results:Compared to OCT images from euthermic retinae, OCT images of torpid retinae revealed significantly thicker inner and outer nuclear layers, as well as increases in the distances between outer retinal reflectivity bands 1 and 2, and bands 3 and 4. A significant decrease in the distance between bands 2 and 3 also was seen, alongside significant thinning of the choriocapillaris and choroid. OCT image quality was reduced in torpid eyes, partly due to significant thickening of the corneal stroma during this state. Conclusions:The torpid retina of the hibernating 13-LGS undergoes structural changes that can be detected by OCT imaging. Comparisons between in vivo OCT and ex vivo histomorphometry may offer insight to the origin of hyperreflective OCT bands within the outer retina of the cone-dominant 13-LGS.

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