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Using Retinal Imaging to Predict Cerebrovascular Diseases

Posted on: April 22nd, 2024 by Our Team

A condition called Chronic Cerebral Hypoperfusion (CCH) occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted for an extended period of time. This can lead to serious cerebrovascular disease such as white matter disease. According to the International Society for Optics and Photonics, CCH manifests as lesions in the white matter which is a brain region vulnerable to problems with blood supply. Unfortunately, there is no available cure for CCH.

It is critical that an early diagnosis by visualizing the microvascular changes in the brain occurs prior to lesion development.  This diagnosis, however, is challenging given the available imaging techniques.

The retina is a peripheral part of the central nervous system and shares many similarities with cerebral brain matter. Because if has fewer nerve cell types and a simpler structure, it is an excellent target for studying neural circuitry and neurovascular coupling.

Findings From the Study

Researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences first induced CCH in mice by slightly blocking their carotid arteries.  A week later, they studied one of their eyes directly under a two-photon microscope.  They found and counted red blood cells (RBCs) circulating within individual capillaries in the retinal microvascular of mice by labeling their blood plasma with a fluorescent tag.  The key to the research and resulting tests was to quantify the flux of RBCs in as many capillaries as possible.  They discovered that the mean capillary RBC flux in the retina was more significantly affected by CCH than those in the white and gray matter.

The International Society for Optics and Photonics indicates that microcirculation in the retina could be a promising predictor of CCH and potentially serve as an early diagnostic biomarker for cerebrovascular diseases.


It is hoped that future research using the proposed imaging technique could enable researchers to better understand neural circuits and neurovascular coupling.  The overarching goal is to help save lives through early diagnoses of cerebrovascular diseases.

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