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Gwen Musial, Tabea Kohlfaerber, Martin Ahrens, Hinnerk Schulz-Hildebrandt, Philipp Steven, Gereon Hüttmann; Dynamic Contrast Microscopic Optical Coherence Tomography As a Novel Method for Assessing Corneal Epithelium During Exposure to Benzalkonium Chloride. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2022;11(5):28. https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.11.5.28.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Microscopic optical coherence tomography (mOCT) has an imaging resolution of 1 µm in all voxel dimensions, but individual epithelial cells are difficult to resolve due to lack of scattering contrast. Adding dynamic contrast processing to mOCT (dmOCT) results in color images that enable visualization of individual cells and possibly give information on cellular function via the calculation of a motility coefficient. We propose this technique as a novel method of evaluating the ocular surface after exposure to a toxic chemical, benzalkonium chloride (BAK).
Ex vivo cross-section images were acquired with a custom-built, frequency-domain mOCT system. Eyes were explanted from healthy adult C57BL/6 mice and imaged every 30 minutes with five sets of dmOCT scans at each imaging time. Total epithelium and stroma thicknesses were measured from a single mOCT B-scan, and measures of color changes (hue) and the motility coefficient were acquired from dmOCT scans.
After 30-minute exposures to 0.005% BAK, local motility decreased and total epithelium thickness increased compared to controls. For basal epithelium cells, local motility decreased after 60-minute exposures, and the hue shifted red after 90-minute exposures. Stroma thickness did not significantly swell until 150-minute exposures to BAK.
dmOCT allows us to view the behavior of the cornea epithelium under toxic stress due to BAK, revealing parallel swelling of the extracellular matrix and changes in local subcellular motion.
The evaluation of the cornea epithelium using dmOCT is helpful to our understanding of the toxic effects of BAK.
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