Effect of uveal melanocytes on choroidal morphology in rhesus macaques and humans on enhanced-depth imaging optical coherence tomography

Glenn C Yiu, Vivian S. Vuong, Sharon Oltjen, David Cunefare, Sina Farsiu, Laura Garzel, Jeffrey A Roberts, Sara M Thomasy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To compare cross-sectional choroidal morphology in rhesus macaque and human eyes using enhanced-depth imaging optical coherence tomography (EDI-OCT) and histologic analysis. METHODS. Enhanced-depth imaging–OCT images from 25 rhesus macaque and 30 human eyes were evaluated for choriocapillaris and choroidal–scleral junction (CSJ) visibility in the central macula based on OCT reflectivity profiles, and compared with age-matched histologic sections. Semiautomated segmentation of the choriocapillaris and CSJ was used to measure choriocapillary and choroidal thickness, respectively. Multivariate regression was performed to determine the association of age, refractive error, and race with choriocapillaris and CSJ visibility. RESULTS. Rhesus macaques exhibit a distinct hyporeflective choriocapillaris layer on EDI-OCT, while the CSJ cannot be visualized. In contrast, humans show variable reflectivities of the choriocapillaris, with a distinct CSJ seen in many subjects. Histologic sections demonstrate large, darkly pigmented melanocytes that are densely distributed in the macaque choroid, while melanocytes in humans are smaller, less pigmented, and variably distributed. Optical coherence tomography reflectivity patterns of the choroid appear to correspond to the density, size, and pigmentation of choroidal melanocytes. Mean choriocapillary thickness was similar between the two species (19.3 ± 3.4 vs. 19.8 ± 3.4 μm, P = 0.615), but choroidal thickness may be lower in macaques than in humans (191.2 ± 43.0 vs. 266.8 ± 78.0 μm, P < 0.001). Racial differences in uveal pigmentation also appear to affect the visibility of the choriocapillaris and CSJ on EDI-OCT. CONCLUSIONS. Pigmented uveal melanocytes affect choroidal morphology on EDI-OCT in rhesus macaque and human eyes. Racial differences in pigmentation may affect choriocapillaris and CSJ visibility, and may influence the accuracy of choroidal thickness measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5764-5771
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016



  • Choroid
  • Imaging
  • Melanocytes
  • OCT
  • Rhesus macaques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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