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Kafarnik, Christiane; Fritsche, Jens; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791 (2008): Corneal innervation in mesocephalic and brachycephalic dogs and cats: assessment using in vivo confocal microscopy. In: Veterinary ophthalmology, Vol. 11, No. 6: pp. 363-367
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Objective:  To determine the density of the canine and feline corneal neural network in healthy dogs and cats using in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM). Animals examined:  A total of 16 adult dogs (9 Mesocephalic breeds, 7 Brachycephalic breeds) and 15 cats (9 Domestic Short-haired cats (DSH), 6 Persian cats) underwent IVCM. Procedure:  Animals were examined with a confocal corneal microscope (HRTII/RCM; Heidelberg Retina Tomograph II/Rostock Cornea Module®, Heidelberg Engineering, Dossenheim, Germany). The investigations focused on the distribution of the corneal nerves and quantification of central subepithelial and subbasal nerve plexus. Results:  The corneal stromal nerve trunks, subepithelial and subbasal nerve plexus were observed. The nerve fiber density (NFD) quantified in nerve fiber length in mesocephalic dogs were 12.39 ± 5.25 mm/mm2 in the subepithelial nerve plexus and 14.87 ± 3.08 mm/mm2 in the subbasal nerve plexus. The NFD of the subepithelial nerve plexus in DSH cats was 15.49 ± 2.7 and 18.4 ± 3.84 mm/mm2 in the subbasal nerve plexus. The subbasal NFD of DSH cats was significantly higher than in mesocephalic dogs (P = 0.037). The subepithelial NFD in brachycephalic dogs, and Persian cats were 10.34 ± 4.71 and 9.50 ± 2.3 mm/mm2, respectively. The subbasal NFD measured 11.80 ± 3.73 mm/mm2 in brachycephalic dogs, and 12.28 ± 4.3 mm/mm2 NFD in Persian cats, respectively. The subepithelial and subbasal NFD in Persian cats were significantly lower than in DSH cats (P = 0.028, respectively, P = 0.031), in contrast to brachycephalic vs. mesocephalic dogs. Conclusion:  The noninvasive IVCM accurately detects corneal innervation and provides a reliable quantification of central corneal nerves.