Abstract. Many studies suggest that the degradation of microtubules in the retinal ganglion cells may be an early event in the progression of glaucoma. Because reflectance and birefringence of the retinal nerve fibers arise primarily from microtubules, the optical properties have been intensively studied for early detection of the disease. We previously reported a novel nonlinear optical signal from axonal microtubules for visualizing the retinal nerve fibers, namely second-harmonic generation (SHG). We demonstrate the use of axonal SHG to investigate the effect of microtubules on the morphology of the retinal nerve fiber bundles. Time-lapse SHG imaging of ex vivo rat retinal flat mounts was performed during pharmacological treatment of nocodazole, and the intensity of axonal SHG and the changes in nerve fiber bundle morphology were monitored. We found that the microtubule disruption does not lead to immediate modification in the morphology of the nerve fibers. Our results indicate that microtubular SHG may provide a useful means for sensitive detection of axonal injuries. Since the intrinsic radiation depends on the regular architecture of the cytoskeleton element as maintained by active cellular regulations, the intensity of signal reflects the health of the retinal ganglion cell axons.
Lim, H. & Danias, J. (2012). Effect of axonal micro-tubules on the morphology of retinal nerve fibers studied by second-harmonic generation. Journal of Biomedical Optics, 17(11), 110502. doi:10.1117/1.JBO.17.11.110502.