Repetitive, non-invasive imaging of neurodegeneration, and prevention of it with gene replacement, in mice with Sanfilippo syndrome.

Kim M. Hemsley, Helen Beard, Glyn Chidlow, Teresa Mammone, Leanne K. Winner, Daniel Neumann, Barbara King, Marten F. Snel, Paul J. Trim, Robert J. Casson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hampering assessment of treatment outcomes in gene therapy and other clinical trials in patients with childhood dementia is the lack of an objective, non-invasive measure of neurodegeneration. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a widely available, rapid, non-invasive, and quantitative method for examining the integrity of the neuroretina. Profound brain and retinal dysfunction occur in patients and animal models of childhood dementia, including Sanfilippo syndrome and we recently revealed a correlation between the age of onset and rate of progression of retinal and brain degeneration in sulfamidase-deficient Sanfilippo mice. The aim of the current study was to use OCT to visualise the discrete changes in retinal structure that occur during disease progression. A progressive decline in retinal thickness was readily observable in Sanfilippo mice using OCT, with differences seen in affected animals from 10-weeks of age. OCT applied to i.v. AAV9-sulfamidase-treated Sanfilippo mice enabled visualisation of improved retinal anatomy in living animals, an outcome confirmed via histology. Importantly, brain disease lesions were also ameliorated in treated Sanfilippo mice. The findings highlight the sensitivity, ease of repetitive use and quantitative capacity of OCT for detection of discrete changes in retinal structure and their prevention with a therapeutic. Combined with the knowledge that retinal and brain degeneration are correlated in Sanfilippo syndrome, OCT provides a window to the brain in this and potentially other childhood dementias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114610
JournalExperimental Neurology
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jan 2024


  • Childhood dementia
  • Lysosomal storage disorder
  • Mouse model
  • Optical coherence tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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