Author(s): Nunley KA, Metti AL, Klein R,Klein BE, Saxton JA, Orchard TJ, Costacou T, Aizenstein HJ, Rosano C. Long-term changes in retinal vascular diameter and cognitive impairment in type 1 diabetes. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2018 May;15(3):223-232. doi: 10.1177/1479164118758581. Epub 2018 Feb 28. PMID 29488397
OBJECTIVE To assess associations between cognitive impairment and longitudinal changes in retinal microvasculature, over 18 years, in adults with type 1 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Participants of the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study received ≥3 fundus photographs between baseline (1986-1988) and time of cognitive assessment (2010-2015: N = 119; 52% male; mean age and type 1 diabetes duration 43 and 34 years, respectively). Central retinal arteriolar equivalent and central retinal venular equivalent were estimated via computer-based methods; overall magnitude and speed of narrowing were quantified as cumulative average and slope, respectively. Median regression models estimated associations of central retinal arteriolar equivalent and central retinal venular equivalent measures with cognitive impairment status, adjusted for type 1 diabetes duration. Interactions with HbA1c, proliferative retinopathy and white matter hyperintensities were assessed.
RESULTS Compared with participants without cognitive impairment, those with clinically relevant cognitive impairment experienced 1.8% greater and 31.1% faster central retinal arteriolar equivalent narrowing during prior years (t = -2.93, p = 0.004 and t = -3.97, p < 0.0001, respectively). Interactions with HbA1c, proliferative retinopathy and white matter hyperintensities were not significant. No associations were found between central retinal arteriolar equivalent at baseline, at time of cognitive testing, or any central retinal venular equivalent measures, and cognitive impairment.
CONCLUSION Long-term arterial retinal changes could indicate type 1 diabetes-related cognitive impairment. Studies examining longitudinal central retinal arteriolar equivalent changes as early biomarkers of cognitive impairment risk are warranted.