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Relationships between retinal layer thickness and brain volumes in the UK Biobank cohort

Chua, SY; Lascaratos, G; Atan, D; Zhang, B; Reisman, C; Khaw, PT; Smith, SM; ... UK Biobank Eye, Vision Consortium; + view all (2021) Relationships between retinal layer thickness and brain volumes in the UK Biobank cohort. European Journal of Neurology , 28 (5) pp. 1490-1498. 10.1111/ene.14706. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Current methods to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases are costly and invasive. Retinal neuroanatomy may be a biomarker for more neurodegenerative processes and can be quantified in vivo using optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is inexpensive and noninvasive. We examined the association of neuroretinal morphology with brain MRI image derived phenotypes (IDPs) in a large cohort of healthy older people. METHODS: UK Biobank participants aged 40 to 69 years old underwent comprehensive examinations including ophthalmic and brain imaging assessments. Macular retinal nerve fibre layer (mRNFL), ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (mGCIPL), ganglion cell complex (mGCC) and total macular thicknesses were obtained from OCT. MRI IDPs assessed included total brain, grey-matter, white-matter and hippocampal volume. Multivariable linear regression models were used to evaluate associations between retinal layers thickness and brain MRI IDPs, adjusting for demographic factors and vascular risk factors. RESULTS: A total of 2,131 participants (mean age 55 years; 51% women) with both gradable OCT images and brain imaging assessments were included. In multivariable regression analysis, thinner mGCIPL, mGCC, and total macular thickness were all significantly associated with smaller total brain (p<0.001), grey-matter and white-matter volumes (p<0.01), and grey-matter volume in the occipital pole (p<0.05). Thinner mGCC and total macular thicknesses were associated with smaller hippocampal volume (p<0.02). No association was found between mRNFL and the MRI IDPs. CONCLUSION: Markers of retinal neurodegeneration are associated with smaller brain volumes. Our findings suggest that retinal structures may be a biomarker providing information about important brain structures in healthy, older adults.

Type: Article
Title: Relationships between retinal layer thickness and brain volumes in the UK Biobank cohort
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/ene.14706
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/ene.14706
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Retinal neurodegeneration, brain MRI markers, cognitive impairment, optical coherence tomography, retinal layers
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Ophthalmology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118310
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