Madrid, November 8 (EFE). – Some of the changes detected in the retina may reveal symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Spanish researchers, who thus confirmed the potential of the retina as a biomarker for some neurodegenerative diseases.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is characterized by damage to nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, but it also affects retinal tissue, according to a study led by researchers from the Ramon Castrovigo Institute for Ophthalmology Research at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
The research, the conclusions of which are published in Neuro-Regeneration Research, suggests that ALS patients may experience changes in microglia, cells responsible for protecting and defending neurons, as well as a loss of neurons, retinal neurons.
“These alterations detected in this disease can serve as biomarkers for the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with ALS, as well as to verify the efficacy of different treatments by monitoring them in a simple, non-invasive and cheaper way,” said Pilar. Rojas, researcher at UCM.
In addition to describing changes in the retina, the work also indicates that these alterations have a development throughout the disease. “This was observed in the spinal cord of these patients, but not in the retina, which is a significant achievement, because monitoring the patient can be less invasive,” researcher Rosa de Hoes said.
The study was carried out at the aforementioned Ophthalmological Institute in collaboration with the Department of Biochemistry of UCM, the Gregorio Marañón University General Hospital of Madrid, the OFTARED Ophthalmology Network of the Carlos III Health Institute and the RetiBrain Network of the Ministry of Science and Innovation. .
To verify this, the researchers recorded changes in the retina using a non-invasive test (optical tomography) that analyzes the retina and optic nerve and is able to see small changes that are often invisible to the human eye. Author Anna Isabel Ramirez.
Once it was detected in vivo in humans, UCM reported in a press release today that researchers set out to confirm it in an animal model.
“Our group has extensively investigated changes in the retina in various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, specifically in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, few studies have described what happens in the retina and more specifically in microglia, José Manuel Ramirez, professor of ophthalmology at UCM and director of the Ramon Castrovigo Eye Research Institute, summarized.