Retinal microvascular parameters are not associated with reduced renal function in a study of individuals with type 2 diabetes

Gareth J. McKay (Lead / Corresponding author), Euan N. Paterson, Alexander P. Maxwell, Christopher C. Cardwell, Ruixuan Wang, Stephen Hogg, Thomas J. MacGillivray, Emanuele Trucco, Alexander S. Doney

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The eye provides an opportunistic “window” to view the microcirculation. There is published evidence of an association between retinal microvascular calibre and renal function measured by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in individuals with diabetes mellitus. Beyond vascular calibre, few studies have considered other microvascular geometrical features. Here we report novel null findings for measures of vascular spread (vessel fractal dimension), tortuosity, and branching patterns and their relationship with renal function in type 2 diabetes over a mean of 3 years. We performed a nested case-control comparison of multiple retinal vascular parameters between individuals with type 2 diabetes and stable (non-progressors) versus declining (progressors) eGFR across two time points within a subset of 1072 participants from the GoDARTS study cohort. Retinal microvascular were measured using VAMPIRE 3.1 software. In unadjusted analyses and following adjustment for age, gender, systolic blood pressure, HbA1C, and diabetic retinopathy, no associations between baseline retinal vascular parameters and risk of eGFR progression were observed. Cross-sectional analysis of follow-up data showed a significant association between retinal arteriolar diameter and eGFR, but this was not maintained following adjustment. These findings are consistent with a lack of predictive capacity for progressive loss of renal function in type 2 diabetes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3931
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2018


  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Predictive markers
  • Type 2 diabetes


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