Retinal microvascular changes and the risk of developing obesity: population-based cohort study.

Kleins Lab // Publications // Nov 01 2011

PubMed ID: 21933299

Author(s): Shankar A, Sabanayagam C, Klein BE, Klein R. Retinal microvascular changes and the risk of developing obesity: population-based cohort study. Microcirculation. 2011 Nov;18(8):655-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1549-8719.2011.00134.x. PMID 21933299

Journal: Microcirculation (New York, N.Y. : 1994), Volume 18, Issue 8, Nov 2011

BACKGROUND Recent studies have hypothesized that endothelial and microvascular dysfunction may play a role in the development of obesity. Previous studies have shown that retinal microvascular changes are associated with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, few prospective studies have examined the association between retinal microvascular changes and the risk of developing obesity.

METHODS We examined n = 2089 nonobese subjects from a population-based cohort in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (aged 44-85 years, 49% women). Retinal arteriolar and venular diameters were measured from baseline retinal photographs. The main outcome-of-interest was 15-year incidence of obesity.

RESULTS Retinal venular widening was positively associated with incident obesity over a 15-year follow-up period. This association was independent of age, gender, smoking, alcohol intake, education, physical activity, body mass index, serum cholesterol, and C-reactive protein levels. Compared with subjects with retinal venular diameter in the lowest tertile (referent), the multivariable relative risk (95% confidence interval) of obesity among subjects in the highest tertile was 1.68 (1.24-2.28); p-trend = 0.0005. In contrast, narrow retinal arterioles were not associated with obesity.

CONCLUSIONS In a population-based cohort, we found that wider retinal venules are positively associated with risk of developing obesity, suggesting a role for microvascular dysfunction in its etiology.

© 2011 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.