Author(s): Saghiri MA, Suscha A, Wang S, Saghiri AM, Sorenson CM, Sheibani N. Noninvasive temporal detection of early retinal vascular changes during diabetes. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 15;10(1):17370. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-73486-2. PMID 33060607
Journal: Scientific Reports, Volume 10, Issue 1, Oct 2020
Diabetes associated complications, including diabetic retinopathy and loss of vision, are major health concerns. Detecting early retinal vascular changes during diabetes is not well documented, and only few studies have addressed this domain. The purpose of this study was to noninvasively evaluate temporal changes in retinal vasculature at very early stages of diabetes using fundus images from preclinical models of diabetes. Non-diabetic and Akita/+ male mice with different duration of diabetes were subjected to fundus imaging using a Micron III imaging system. The images were obtained from 4 weeks- (onset of diabetes), 8 weeks-, 16 weeks-, and 24 weeks-old male Akita/+ and non-diabetic mice. In total 104 fundus images were subjected to analysis for various feature extractions. A combination of Canny Edge Detector and Angiogenesis Analyzer plug-ins in ImageJ were utilized to quantify various retinal vascular changes in fundus images. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine significant differences in the various extracted features from fundus images of diabetic and non-diabetic animals. Our novel image analysis method led to extraction of over 20 features. These results indicated that some of these features were significantly changed with a short duration of diabetes, and others remained the same but changed after longer duration of diabetes. These patterns likely distinguish acute (protective) and chronic (damaging) associated changes with diabetes. We show that with a combination of various plugging one can extract over 20 features from retinal vasculature fundus images. These features change during diabetes, thus allowing the quantification of quality of retinal vascular architecture as biomarkers for disease progression. In addition, our method was able to identify unique differences among diabetic mice with different duration of diabetes. The ability to noninvasively detect temporal retinal vascular changes during diabetes could lead to identification of specific markers important in the development and progression of diabetes mediated-microvascular changes, evaluation of therapeutic interventions, and eventual reversal of these changes in order to stop or delay disease progression.