Retinal vascular network changes may reflect the integrity of the cerebral microcirculation, and may be associated with cognitive impairment.
Associations of retinal vascular measures with cognitive function and MRI biomarkers were examined amongst Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants in North Carolina who had gradable retinal photographs at Exams 2 (2002 to 2004, n = 313) and 5 (2010 to 2012, n = 306), and detailed cognitive testing and MRI at Exam 6 (2016 to 2018).
After adjustment for covariates and multiple comparisons, greater arteriolar fractal dimension (FD) at Exam 2 was associated with less isotropic free water of gray matter regions (β = −0.0005, SE = 0.0024, p = 0.01) at Exam 6, while greater arteriolar FD at Exam 5 was associated with greater gray matter cortical volume (in mm3, β = 5458, SE = 20.17, p = 0.04) at Exam 6.
Greater arteriolar FD, reflecting greater complexity of the branching pattern of the retinal arteries, is associated with MRI biomarkers indicative of less neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
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Jeremy J. Peavey,
Kevin D. Hiatt,
Christopher T. Whitlow,
Rebecca M. Sappington,
Atalie C. Thompson,
Samuel N. Lockhart,
Stephen R. Rapp,
Annette L. Fitzpatrick,
Susan R. Heckbert,
José A. Luchsinger,
Barbara E. K. Klein,
Stacy M Meuer,
Mary Frances Cotch,
Tien Y. Wong,
Timothy M. Hughes | October 13, 2023