PURPOSE: Ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM) utilizes frequencies higher than conventional diagnostic ultrasound and can noninvasively provide anatomic and functional information about mouse ocular structures in vivo at high resolution. Vascular development can also be assessed with high-frequency Doppler imaging, which permits detection and characterization of ocular blood flow not detectable at lower, conventional Doppler frequencies. METHODS: The eyes of CD-1 mice were examined daily from the day of birth to postnatal day (P)16. Hyaloid vascular system anatomy was imaged with UBM and microcomputed tomography (microCT). Blood flow velocity was also measured with Doppler UBM imaging in the hyaloid artery, vasa hyaloidea propria, tunica vasculosa lentis, and retina. RESULTS: In the mouse, the hyaloid vasculature degenerated from a well-defined structure at birth by progressive loss of branches. Hyaloid regression coincided with a progressive decrease in blood velocity detected in the hyaloid vascular structures, which is thought to be one of the major triggering factors of the regression in these vessels. At P13, no further blood flow was detected in the CD-1 mouse hyaloid vasculature. An inverse relationship was also shown between peak blood velocity in the lens and retina. CONCLUSIONS: UBM imaging provides a valuable means of rapidly and noninvasively characterizing ocular development in vivo. MicroCT scans have also provided intralumenal images of hyaloid vascular structure. This is the first study of vascular structure and function during the dynamic process of hyaloid vascular regression during mouse neonatal eye development and the first three-dimensional images of the complex hyaloid vascular structure.
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