Decreased retinal sensitivity and loss of retinal nerve fibers in multiple system atrophy.
Fischer MD., Synofzik M., Kernstock C., Dietzsch J., Heidlauf R., Schicks J., Srulijes K., Wiethoff S., Menn O., Berg D., Schöls L., Schiefer U.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: In a previous study, retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (RNFLT) loss was shown as part of the neurodegenerative process in multiple system atrophy (MSA). Here, we investigate in a larger cohort of MSA patients whether the RNFLT loss translates into respective visual field defects. METHODS: Spectral domain optical coherence tomography was performed in 20 MSA patients (parkinsonian subtype = 12, cerebellar subtype = 8) to quantify peripapillary RNFLT. Visual field (90°) was analyzed by automated static perimetry to investigate retinal structure/function relationship. Eight data sets did not meet stringent quality criteria, and only 12 data sets were further analyzed. RESULTS: Compared to healthy controls, MSA patients demonstrated a significant reduction of RNFLT in the nasal sectors (p ( nasal-superior ) = 0.02, p ( nasal ) = 0.03, p ( nasal-inferior ) < 0.01), while changes in temporal RNFLT measures (p ( temporal-superior ) = 0.42, p ( temporal ) = 0.34, p ( temporal-inferior ) = 0.25) were not statistically significant compared to healthy controls (ANOVA). MSA patients featured a significant global mean deviation (2.74 dB; p < 0.01) without predominant peripheral visual field defects. Statistical analysis of mean defect in the central (0-30°), peripheral (30-90°) or global (0-90°) visual field revealed no significant correlation (r (2) (central) = 0.11, r (2) (peripheral) = 0.04, r (2) (global) = 0.07) with nasal RNFLT in MSA patients. CONCLUSION: MSA patients feature significant reduction in nasal RNFLT and global mean deviation when compared to healthy controls, consistent with the multi-systemic nature of this neurodegenerative disorder. This finding provides first evidence for two independent deteriorations of the visual system in MSA.