Quantitative study of spatial and temporal variation in retinal capillary network perfusion in rat eye by in vivo confocal imaging

Paula Kun Yu, Andrew Mehnert, Jayden Brendan Dickson, Hassanain Qambari, Chandrakumar Balaratnasingam, Stephen Cringle, Dean Darcey, Dao Yi Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microvascular dysfunction is the underlying pathological process in many systemic diseases. However, investigation into its pathogenesis is impeded by the accessibility and complexity of the microvasculature within different organs, particularly for the central nervous system. The retina as an extension of the cerebrum provides a glimpse into the brain through which the microvasculature can be observed. Two major questions remain unanswered: How do the microvessels regulate spatial and temporal delivery to satisfy the varying cellular demands, and how can we quantify blood perfusion in the 3D capillary network? Here, quantitative measurements of red blood cell (RBC) speed in each vessel in the field were made in the in vivo rat retinal capillary network using an ultrafast confocal technique with fluorescently labelled RBCs. Retinal RBC speed and number were found to vary remarkably between microvessels ranging from 215 to 6641 microns per second with significant variations spatially and temporally. Overall, the RBC speed was significantly faster in the microvessels in the superficial retina than in the deep retina (estimated marginal means of 2405 ± 238.2 µm/s, 1641 ± 173.0 µm/s respectively). These observations point to a highly dynamic nature of microvasculature that is specific to its immediate cellular environment and is constantly changing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18923
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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