Neuro-ophthalmology publications

Chun BY, Cestari DM. Advances in experimental optic nerve regeneration. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2017;Abstract
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent advances in experimental studies of optic nerve regeneration to better understand the pathophysiology of axon regrowth and provide insights into the future treatment of numerous optic neuropathies. RECENT FINDINGS: The optic nerve is part of the central nervous system and cannot regenerate if injured. There are several steps that regenerating axons of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) must take following optic nerve injury that include: maximizing the intrinsic growth capacity of RGCs, overcoming the extrinsic growth-inhibitory environment of the optic nerve, and optimizing the reinnervation of regenerated axons to their targets in the brain. Recently, some degree of experimental optic nerve regeneration has been achieved by factors associated with inducing intraocular inflammation, providing exogenous neurotrophic factors, reactivating intrinsic growth capacity of mature RGCs, or by modifying the extrinsic growth-inhibitory environment of the optic nerve. In some experiments, regenerating axons have been shown to reinnervate their central targets in the brain. SUMMARY: Further approaches to the combination of aforementioned treatments will be necessary to develop future therapeutic strategy to promote ultimate regeneration of the optic nerve and functional vision recovery after optic nerve injury.
Gamond L, Vecchi T, Ferrari C, Merabet LB, Cattaneo Z. Emotion processing in early blind and sighted individuals. Neuropsychology 2017;31(5):516-524.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Emotion processing is known to be mediated by a complex network of cortical and subcortical regions with evidence of specialized hemispheric lateralization within the brain. In light of prior evidence indicating that lateralization of cognitive functions (such as language) may depend on normal visual development, we investigated whether the lack of prior visual experience would have an impact on the development of specialized hemispheric lateralization in emotional processing. METHOD: We addressed this issue by comparing performance in early blind and sighted controls on a dichotic listening task requiring the detection of specific emotional vocalizations (i.e., suggestive of happiness or sadness) presented independently to either ear. RESULTS: Consistent with previous studies, we found that sighted individuals showed enhanced detection of positive vocalizations when presented in the right ear (i.e., processed within the left hemisphere) and negative vocalizations when presented in the left ear (i.e., right hemisphere). It is interesting to note that although blind individuals were as accurate as sighted controls in detecting the valance of the vocalization, performance was not consistent with any pattern of specialized hemispheric lateralization. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these results suggest that although the lack of prior visual experience may not lead to impaired emotion processing performance, the underlying neurophysiological substrate (i.e., degree of special hemispheric lateralization) may depend on normal visual development. (PsycINFO Database Record
Bennett CR, Loomis JM, Klatzky RL, Giudice NA. Spatial updating of multiple targets: Comparison of younger and older adults. Mem Cognit 2017;Abstract
When walking without vision, people mentally keep track of the directions and distances of previously viewed objects, a process called spatial updating. The current experiment indicates that while people across a large age range are able to update multiple targets in memory without perceptual support, aging negatively affects accuracy, precision, and decision time. Participants (20 to 80 years of age) viewed one, three, or six targets (colored lights) on the floor of a dimly lit room. Then, without vision, they walked to a target designated by color, either directly or indirectly (via a forward turning point). The younger adults' final stopping points were both accurate (near target) and precise (narrowly dispersed), but updating performance did degrade slightly with the number of targets. Older adults' performance was consistently worse than the younger group, but the lack of interaction between age and memory load indicates that the effect of age on performance was not further exacerbated by a greater number of targets. The number of targets also significantly increased the latency required to turn toward the designated target for both age groups. Taken together, results extend previous work showing impressive updating performance by younger adults, with novel findings showing that older adults manifest small but consistent degradation of updating performance of multitarget arrays.
Bauer CM, Zajac LE, Koo B-B, Killiany RJ, Merabet LB. Age-related changes in structural connectivity are improved using subject-specific thresholding. J Neurosci Methods 2017;288:45-56.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Deterministic diffusion tractography obtained from high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) requires user-defined quantitative anisotropy (QA) thresholds. Most studies employ a common threshold across all subjects even though there is a strong degree of individual variation within groups. We sought to explore whether it would be beneficial to use individual thresholds in order to accommodate individual variance. To do this, we conducted two independent experiments. METHOD: First, tractography of the arcuate fasciculus and network connectivity measures were examined in a sample of 14 healthy participants. Second, we assessed the effects of QA threshold on group differences in network connectivity measures between healthy young (n=19) and old (n=14) individuals. RESULTS: The results of both experiments were significantly influenced by QA threshold. Common thresholds set too high failed to produce sufficient reconstructions in most subjects, thus decreasing the likelihood of detecting meaningful group differences. On the other hand, common thresholds set too low resulted in spurious reconstructions, providing deleterious results. COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHODS: Subject specific thresholds acquired using our QA threshold selection method (QATS) appeared to provide the most meaningful networks while ensuring that data from all subjects contributed to the analyses. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results support the use of a subject-specific threshold to ensure that data from all subjects are included in the analyses being conducted.
Bouffard MA, Cornblath WT, Rizzo JF, Lee MS, De Lott LB, Eggenberger ER, Torun N. Transient Monocular Vision Loss on Awakening: A Benign Amaurotic Phenomenon. J Neuroophthalmol 2017;37(2):122-125.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Transient monocular vision loss (TMVL) is an alarming symptom owing to potentially serious etiologies such as thromboembolism or giant cell arteritis. Our objective is to describe the phenomenon of TMVL present on awakening, which may represent a distinct and benign entity. METHODS: We performed a retrospective observational case series of 29 patients who experienced TMVL on awakening. Patients who described monocular dimming or blackout of vision were included, and those with blurred vision, concurrent eye pain, and binocular vision loss were excluded. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the study population. RESULTS: Of the 29 patients we studied, 90% (n = 26) were female and 48% had crowded discs (cup-to-disc ratio ≤0.2). The mean age was 45.4 years, although women were significantly younger than men (mean ages 43.4 and 62.7 years, respectively, P = 0.017). Brain magnetic resonance imaging and vascular imaging (magnetic resonance angiography, computed tomographic angiography, or carotid Doppler) were performed in 69% and 55% of cases, respectively, and were uniformly negative. In 14 patients for whom clear follow-up data could be obtained, no medically or visually significant sequelae of this syndrome were found, and 50% experienced resolution of symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Evaluation was uniformly negative when patients described waking with isolated vision loss in 1 eye with subsequent resolution, usually in less than 15 minutes. The natural history seems benign with symptoms frequently remitting spontaneously. This visual phenomenon may represent an autoregulatory failure resulting in a supply/demand mismatch during low-light conditions.
Gaier ED, Rizzo JF, Miller JB, Cestari DM. Focal Capillary Dropout Associated With Optic Disc Drusen Using Optical Coherence Tomographic Angiography. J Neuroophthalmol 2017;Abstract
Optic disc drusen may be a cause of visual field defects and visual loss. The mechanism by which this occurs is unclear. We report a patient who developed decreased vision in the right eye and was found to have a heavy burden of superficial optic disc drusen. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) confirmed focal retinal nerve fiber layer thinning that corresponded with the distribution of drusen. OCT angiography, with superficial laminar segmentation, showed focal capillary attenuation overlying the most prominent drusen. These findings demonstrate alterations in the superficial retinal capillary network associated with optic disc drusen.
Zajac L, Koo B-B, Bauer CM, Killiany R, Killiany R. Seed Location Impacts Whole-Brain Structural Network Comparisons between Healthy Elderly and Individuals with Alzheimer's Disease. Brain Sci 2017;7(4)Abstract

Whole-brain networks derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data require the identification of seed and target regions of interest (ROIs) to assess connectivity patterns. This study investigated how initiating tracts from gray matter (GM) or white matter (WM) seed ROIs impacts (1) structural networks constructed from DTI data from healthy elderly (control) and individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and (2) between-group comparisons using these networks. DTI datasets were obtained from the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. Deterministic tractography was used to build two whole-brain networks for each subject; one in which tracts were initiated from WM ROIs and another in which they were initiated from GM ROIs. With respect to the first goal, in both groups, WM-seeded networks had approximately 400 more connections and stronger connections (as measured by number of streamlines per connection) than GM-seeded networks, but shared 94% of the connections found in the GM-seed networks. With respect to the second goal, between-group comparisons revealed a stronger subnetwork (as measured by number of streamlines per connection) in controls compared to AD using both WM-seeded and GM-seeded networks. The comparison using WM-seeded networks produced a larger (i.e., a greater number of connections) and more significant subnetwork in controls versus AD. Global, local, and nodal efficiency were greater in controls compared to AD, and between-group comparisons of these measures using WM-seeded networks had larger effect sizes than those using GM-seeded networks. These findings affirm that seed location significantly affects the ability to detect between-group differences in structural networks.

Jamuar SS, Schmitz-Abe K, D'Gama AM, Drottar M, Chan W-M, Peeva M, Servattalab S, Lam A-TN, Delgado MR, Clegg NJ, Zayed ZA, Dogar MA, Alorainy IA, Jamea AA, Abu-Amero K, Griebel M, Ward W, Lein ES, Markianos K, Barkovich JA, Robson CD, Grant EP, Bosley TM, Engle EC, Walsh CA, Yu TW. Biallelic mutations in human DCC cause developmental split-brain syndrome. Nat Genet 2017;49(4):606-612.Abstract

Motor, sensory, and integrative activities of the brain are coordinated by a series of midline-bridging neuronal commissures whose development is tightly regulated. Here we report a new human syndrome in which these commissures are widely disrupted, thus causing clinical manifestations of horizontal gaze palsy, scoliosis, and intellectual disability. Affected individuals were found to possess biallelic loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding the axon-guidance receptor 'deleted in colorectal carcinoma' (DCC), which has been implicated in congenital mirror movements when it is mutated in the heterozygous state but whose biallelic loss-of-function human phenotype has not been reported. Structural MRI and diffusion tractography demonstrated broad disorganization of white-matter tracts throughout the human central nervous system (CNS), including loss of all commissural tracts at multiple levels of the neuraxis. Combined with data from animal models, these findings show that DCC is a master regulator of midline crossing and development of white-matter projections throughout the human CNS.

Bouffard MA, Caplan LR, Torun N. Divergence Palsy due to Divalproex and Oxcarbazepine. Clin Neuropharmacol 2017;Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This case series is the first to describe divergence palsy as an adverse effect of antiepileptic drug use. Diplopia is a common adverse effect of antiepileptic drugs, but no explanatory motility deficit has ever been reported. METHODS: We present 2 patients, 1 on oxcarbazepine and 1 on divalproex, each with a normal examination result between spells and divergency palsy when symptomatic. RESULTS: Discontinuation of the antiepileptic medication led to resolution of the episodes in both cases. Rechallenge with the offending agent after washout in one patient resulted in recurrence of diplopia and divergence palsy, both resolving after subsequent withdrawal of the antiepileptic. CONCLUSIONS: Antiepileptic drugs may cause divergence palsy.