A novel rat contact lens model for Fusarium keratitis.
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to develop and characterize a new contact lens-associated fungal keratitis rat model and to assess the ability of non-invasive spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) to detect pathological changes in vivo in fungal keratitis. METHODS: We used SD-OCT to image and measure the cornea of Sprague Dawley rats. Fusarium infection was initiated in the rat eye by fitting Fusarium solani-soaked contact lenses on the experimental eye, while the control animals received contact lenses soaked in sterile saline. The fungal infection was monitored with periodic slit-lamp examination and in vivo SD-OCT imaging of the rat eye, and confirmed by histology, counting of viable fungi in the infected rat cornea, and PCR with specific primers for Fusarium sp. RESULTS: We imaged and measured the rat cornea with SD-OCT. Custom-made contact lenses were developed based on the OCT measurements. Incubation of contact lenses in a F. solani suspension resulted in biofilm formation. We induced contact lens-associated Fusarium keratitis by fitting the rat eyes for 4 h with the Fusarium-contaminated contact lenses. The SD-OCT images of the cornea correlated well with the slit-lamp and histopathological results and clearly defined clinical signs of infection, namely, increased corneal thickening, loss of epithelial continuity, hyper-reflective areas representing infiltrates, and endothelial plaques characteristic of fungal infection. Moreover, in three cases, SD-OCT detected the infection without any clear findings on slit-lamp examination. Infection was confirmed with histological fungal staining, PCR, and microbiological culture positivity. CONCLUSIONS: We developed a highly reproducible rat contact lens model and successfully induced contact lens-associated Fusarium keratitis in this model. The clinical presentation of contact lens-associated Fusarium keratitis in the rat model is similar to the human condition. SD-OCT is a valuable tool that non-invasively revealed characteristic signs of the fungal infection and could provide sensitive, objective monitoring in fungal keratitis.
Abou Shousha, M; Santos, ARC; Oechsler, RA; Iovieno, A; Maestre-Mesa, J; Ruggeri, M; Echegaray, JJ; Dubovy, SR; Perez, VL; Miller, D; Alfonso, EC; Bajenaru, ML
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