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Retinal artery to vein ratio is associated with cerebral microbleeds in individuals with type 1 diabetes.

Journal of Hypertension 2024 Februrary 29
OBJECTIVES: A third of asymptomatic individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) show signs of cerebrovascular disease in brain MRI. These signs associate with advanced stages of diabetic retinal disease, but not in mild or moderate retinopathy. We aimed to evaluate a wider spectrum of retinal changes by exploring the relationship between quantitative measures of retinal vessel parameters (RVP) and cerebrovascular changes in T1D.

METHODS: We included 146 neurologically asymptomatic individuals with T1D [51% women, median age 40 (33.0-45.1) years] and 24 healthy, sex-matched and age-matched controls. All individuals underwent a clinical and biochemical work-up and brain MRI, which was evaluated for cerebral microbleeds (CMBs), white matter hyperintensities, and lacunar infarcts. RVPs, including central retinal arteriole (CRAE) and central retinal vein (CRVE) equivalents and the ratio of the two variables (arteriovenous ratio, AVR) were assessed quantitatively by a computer-assisted method (IVAN software, version 3.2.6) from fundus images.

RESULTS: Among T1D participants, those with CMBs had a lower arteriovenous ratio (AVR) compared with those without CMBs (P = 0.023). AVR was inversely associated with the amount of CMBs (r = -0.063, P = 0.035). CMB prevalence was higher in those with AVR below the median (31%) compared with above the median (16%, P < 0.001), and this difference was significant also after individuals with only no-to-mild retinopathy were included (28 vs. 16%, P = 0.005). A correlation between blood pressure and CRAE (r = -0.19, P = 0.025) appeared among those with T1D.

CONCLUSION: Regardless of the severity of diabetic retinopathy, AVR is associated with the existence of CMBs in T1D.

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