Macular Ganglion Cell-Inner Plexiform Layer as a Marker of Cognitive and Sensory Function in Midlife.

PubMed ID: 32490509

Author(s): Merten N, Paulsen AJ, Pinto AA, Chen Y, Dillard LK, Fischer ME, Huang GH, Klein BEK, Schubert CR, Cruickshanks KJ. Macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer as a marker of cognitive and sensory function in midlife. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020 Sep 16;75(9):e42-e48. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glaa135. PMID 32490509

Journal: The Journals Of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences And Medical Sciences, Volume 75, Issue 9, Sep 2020

BACKGROUND Neurodegenerative diseases are public health challenges in aging populations. Early identification of people at risk for neurodegeneration might improve targeted treatment. Noninvasive, inexpensive screening tools are lacking but are of great potential. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) measures the thickness of nerve cell layers in the retina, which is an anatomical extension of the brain and might be indicative of common underlying neurodegeneration. We aimed to determine the association of macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (mGCIPL) thickness with cognitive and sensorineural function in midlife.

METHOD This cross-sectional study included 1,880 Beaver Dam Offspring Study participants (aged 27-93 years, mean 58) who participated in the 10-year follow-up examination. We assessed cognitive function and impairment, hearing sensitivity thresholds and impairment, central auditory processing, visual impairment, and olfactory impairment. We measured mGCIPL using the Cirrus 5000 HD-OCT Macular Cube Scan. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders were used to determine associations between mGCIPL thickness and cognitive and sensorineural functions, as well as for comparing participants with a thin mGCIPL (1 SD below average) to the remainder in those functions.

RESULTS Thinner mGCIPL was associated with worse cognitive function, worse central auditory function, and visual impairment. We found an association of mGCIPL thickness with hearing sensitivity in women only and no association with impairment in hearing, olfaction, and cognition. Results on the thin group comparisons were consistent.

CONCLUSIONS mGCIPL thickness is associated with cognitive and sensorineural function and has the potential as a marker for neurodegeneration in middle-aged adults.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: