Non-Invasive Detection of Corneal Sub-basal Nerve Plexus Changes in Multiple Myeloma Patients by Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy

Purpose: Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) is a non-invasive technique for cellular in vivo imaging of the human cornea. CLSM screening was evaluated for early detection of corneal nerve morphology changes and neuropathogenic events in different stage multiple myeloma (MM) patients. As MM patients show disease as well as therapy related neuropathological symptoms CSLM potentially provides a tool for non-invasive early detection of neuropathogenic events. CLSM findings were compared to the severity of peripheral neuropathic (PNP) symptoms.

Methods: The study enrolled 25 MM patients in which bilateral ophthalmologic examination was performed including unilateral CLSM. Further peripheral nerve function was clinically evaluated using the conventional neuropathy symptom and neuropathy deficit scores.

Results: In 18/25 MM patients CLSM detected atypical morphological appearance of bulb-like enlarged nerve endings in the corneal sub-basal nerve plexus. These neuromas were only found in patients showing moderate to severe PNP, in patients with mild or lack PNP neuromas were absent.

Conclusions: CSLM provides a novel non-invasive diagnostic tool for identification of neuromas in cancer patients affected by therapy or disease related neuropathologies, perspectival allowing early neuronal degenerative process detection and monitoring.