Patterns of retinal ganglion cell damage in neurodegenerative disorders: Parvocellular vs magnocellular degeneration in optical coherence tomography studies

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

Abstract

Many neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), are characterized by loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) as part of the neurodegenerative process. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) studies demonstrated variable degree of optic atrophy in these diseases. However, the pattern of degenerative changes affecting the optic nerve (ON) can be different. In particular, neurodegeneration is more evident for magnocellular RGCs in AD and multiple system atrophy with a pattern resembling glaucoma. Conversely, in PD and Huntington's disease, the parvocellular RGCs are more vulnerable. This latter pattern closely resembles that of mitochondrial optic neuropathies, possibly pointing to similar pathogenic mechanisms. In this review, the currently available evidences on OCT findings in these neurodegenerative disorders are summarized with particular emphasis on the different pattern of RGC loss. The ON degeneration could become a validated biomarker of the disease, which may turn useful to follow natural history and possibly assess therapeutic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number710
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume8
Issue numberDEC
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 22 2017

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Huntington's disease
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Optic nerve
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Retinal ganglion cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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