Optic Nerve T2 Signal Intensity and Caliber Reflect Clinical Severity in Genetic Optic Atrophy

J Neuroophthalmol. 2024 Jun 17. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000002191. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Genetic optic atrophies comprise phenotypically heterogenous disorders of mitochondrial function. We aimed to correlate quantitative neuroimaging findings of the optic nerves in these disorders with clinical measures.

METHODS: From a retrospective database of 111 patients with bilateral optic atrophy referred for genetic testing, 15 patients diagnosed with nonglaucomatous optic atrophy of genetic origin (7 patients with pathogenic variants in OPA1, 3 patients with Wolfram syndrome, and 5 patients with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy) who had accessible magnetic resonance (MR) images of the orbits and/or brain were analyzed. The primary outcome measures of T2 short Tau inversion recovery (STIR) signal and optic nerve caliber were quantified according to a standardized protocol, normalized to internal standards, and compared between cases and controls. Inter-rater reliability was assessed and clinical features were analyzed according to MRI features.

RESULTS: Compared with control patients, the 15 genetic optic atrophy patients demonstrated significantly increased T2 STIR signal (fold-change 1.6, P = 0.0016) and decreased optic nerve caliber (fold-change 0.72, P = 0.00012) after internal normalization. These metrics were reliable (inter-reader reliability correlation coefficients of 0.98 [P = 0.00036] and 0.74 [P = 0.0025] for normalized STIR and nerve caliber, respectively) and significantly correlated with visual acuity, cup-to-disc ratio, and visual field testing.

CONCLUSION: Normalized optic nerve STIR signal and optic nerve caliber significantly correlate with visual acuity, cup-to-disc ratio, and perimetric performance in patients with genetic optic atrophy. A formalized protocol to characterize these differences on MRI may help to guide accurate and expedient diagnostic evaluation.

PMID:38880955 | DOI:10.1097/WNO.0000000000002191