Interpretation of OCT and OCTA images from a histological approach: Clinical and experimental implications.Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 Jan 03 [Online ahead of print]PR
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT angiography (OCTA) have been a technological breakthrough in the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of many retinal diseases, thanks to its resolution and its ability to inform of the retinal state in seconds, which gives relevant information about retinal degeneration. In this review, we present an immunohistochemical description of the human and mice retina and we correlate it with the OCT bands in health and pathological conditions. Here, we propose an interpretation of the four outer hyperreflective OCT bands with a correspondence to retinal histology: the first and innermost band as the external limiting membrane (ELM), the second band as the cone ellipsoid zone (EZ), the third band as the outer segment tips phagocytosed by the pigment epithelium (PhaZ), and the fourth band as the mitochondria in the basal portion of the RPE (RPEmitZ). The integrity of these bands would reflect the health of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium. Moreover, we describe how the vascular plexuses vary in different regions of the healthy human and mice retina, using OCTA and immunohistochemistry. In humans, four, three, two or one plexuses can be observed depending on the distance from the fovea. Also, specific structures such as vascular loops in the intermediate capillary plexus, or spider-like structures of interconnected capillaries in the deep capillary plexus are found. In mice, three vascular plexuses occupy the whole retina, except in the most peripheral retina where only two plexuses are found. These morphological issues should be considered when assessing a pathology, as some retinal diseases are associated with structural changes in blood vessels. Therefore, the analysis of OCT bands and OCTA vascular plexuses may be complementary for the diagnosis and prognosis of retinal degenerative processes, useful to assess therapeutic approaches, and it is usually correlated to visual acuity.