Association of the Fractal Dimension of Retinal Arteries and Veins with Quantitative Brain MRI Measures in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Women.

PubMed ID: 27158911

Author(s): Crystal HA, Holman S, Lui YW, Baird AE, Yu H, Klein R, Rojas-Soto DM, Gustafson DR, Stebbins GT. Association of the fractal dimension of retinal arteries and veins with quantitative brain MRI measures in HIV-infected and uninfected women. PLoS One. 2016 May 9;11(5):e0154858. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154858. eCollection 2016. PMID 27158911

Journal: Plo S One, Volume 11, Issue 5, 2016

OBJECTIVE The fractal dimension of retinal arteries and veins is a measure of the complexity of the vascular tree. We hypothesized that retinal fractal dimension would be associated with brain volume and white matter integrity in HIV-infected women.

DESIGN Nested case-control within longitudinal cohort study.

METHODS Women were recruited from the Brooklyn site of the Women’s Interagency HIV study (WIHS); 34 HIV-infected and 21 HIV-uninfected women with analyzable MRIs and retinal photographs were included. Fractal dimension was determined using the SIVA software program on skeletonized retinal images. The relationship between predictors (retinal vascular measures) and outcomes (quantitative MRI measures) were analyzed with linear regression models. All models included age, intracranial volume, and both arterial and venous fractal dimension. Some models were adjusted for blood pressure, race/ethnicity, and HIV-infection.

RESULTS The women were 45.6 ± 7.3 years of age. Higher arterial dimension was associated with larger cortical volumes, but higher venous dimension was associated with smaller cortical volumes. In fully adjusted models, venous dimension was significantly associated with fractional anisotropy (standardized β = -0.41, p = 0.009) and total gray matter volume (β = -0.24, p = 0.03), and arterial dimension with mean diffusivity (β = -0.33,.p = 0.04) and fractional anisotropy (β = 0.34, p = 0.03). HIV-infection was not associated with any retinal or MRI measure.

CONCLUSIONS Higher venous fractal dimension was associated with smaller cortical volumes and lower fractional anisotropy, whereas higher arterial fractal dimension was associated with the opposite patterns. Longitudinal studies are needed to validate this finding.