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Havla, Joachim; Pakeerathan, Thivya; Schwake, Carolin; Bennett, Jeffrey L.; Kleiter, Ingo; Felipe-Rucian, Ana; Joachim, Stephanie C.; Lotz-Havla, Amelie S.; Kumpfel, Tania; Krumbholz, Markus; Wendel, Eva M.; Reindl, Markus; Thiels, Charlotte; Lucke, Thomas; Hellwig, Kerstin; Gold, Ralf; Rostasy, Kevin and Ayzenberg, Ilya (2021): Age-dependent favorable visual recovery despite significant retinal atrophy in pediatric MOGAD: how much retina do you really need to see well? In: Journal of Neuroinflammation, Vol. 18, No. 1, 121

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Background To investigate age-related severity, patterns of retinal structural damage, and functional visual recovery in pediatric and adult cohorts of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease (MOGAD) optic neuritis (ON). Methods All MOGAD patients from the 5 participating centers were included. Patients with initial manifestation <18 years were included in the pediatric (MOGAD(ped)) cohort and patients with >= 18 years in the adult (MOGAD(adult)) cohort. For patients with MOGAD ON, examinations at least >= 6 months after ON onset were included in the analyses. Using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), we acquired peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (pRNFL) and volumes of combined ganglion cell and inner plexiform layer (GCIPL). High- and 2.5% low-contrast visual acuity (HCVA, LCVA) and visual-evoked potentials (VEP) were obtained. Results Twenty MOGAD(ped) (10.3 +/- 3.7 years, 30 MOGAD ON eyes) and 39 MOGAD(adult) (34.9 +/- 11.6 years, 42 MOGAD ON eyes) patients were included. The average number of ON episodes per ON eye was similar in both groups (1.8 +/- 1.3 and 2.0 +/- 1.7). In both pediatric and adult MOGAD, ON led to pronounced neuroaxonal retinal atrophy (pRNFL: 63.1 +/- 18.7 and 64.3 +/- 22.9 mu m;GCIPL: 0.42 +/- 0.09 and 0.44 +/- 0.13 mm(3), respectively) and moderate delay of the VEP latencies (117.9 +/- 10.7 and 118.0 +/- 14.5 ms). In contrast, visual acuity was substantially better in children (HCVA: 51.4 +/- 9.3 vs. 35.0 +/- 20.6 raw letters, p=0.001;LCVA: 22.8 +/- 14.6 vs. 13.5 +/- 16.4, p=0.028). Complete visual recovery (HCVA-logMAR 0.0) occurred in 73.3% of MOGAD(ped) and 31% MOGAD(adults) ON eyes, while 3.3% and 31% demonstrated moderate to severe (logMAR > 0.5) visual impairment. Independent of retinal atrophy, age at ON onset significantly correlated with visual outcome. Conclusion Pediatric MOGAD ON showed better visual recovery than adult MOGAD ON despite profound and almost identical neuroaxonal retinal atrophy. Age-related cortical neuroplasticity may account for the substantial discrepancy between structural changes and functional outcomes.

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