Abnormal retinal vascular reactivity in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance: a preliminary study

Sunni R. Patel, Srikanth Bellary, Lu Qin, George M. Balanos, David McIntyre, Doina Gherghel

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To investigate the relationship between vascular function parameters measured at the retinal and systemic level and known markers for cardiovascular risk in patients with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Sixty age- and gender- matched White-European adults (30 IGT and 30 normal glucose tolerance -NGT) were recruited for the study. Fasting plasma glucose, lipids and 24-hour blood pressure (BP) was measured in all subjects. Systemic vascular and endothelial function was assessed using carotid-artery intimal media thickness (cIMT) and flow mediated dilation (FMD). Retinal vascular reactivity was assessed by the Dynamic Retinal Vessel Analyser (DVA). Additionally, blood glutathione (GSH, GSSG and tGSH) and plasma von-Willebrand (vWF) factor levels were also measured. Individuals with IGT demonstrated higher BP values (p<0.001), fasting TG and TG:HDL ratios (p<0.001) than NGT subjects. Furthermore, Total:HDL-C ratios and Framingham scores were raised (p=0.010 and p<0.001 respectively). Blood glutathione levels (GSH, GSSG and tGSH) were lower (p<0.001, p=0.039 and p<0.001 respectively) while plasma vWF was increased (p=0.014) in IGT subjects compared to controls. IGT individuals also demonstrated higher IMT in right and left carotid arteries (p=0.017 and p=0.005, respectively) alongside larger brachial artery diameter (p=0.015), lower FMD% (p=0.026) and GTN induced dilation (GID) (p=0.012) than healthy controls. At the retinal arterial level, the IGT subjects showed higher baseline fluctuations (BDF) (p=0.026), longer reaction time (RT) (p=0.032) and reduced baseline-corrected flicker response (bFR) (p=0.045). In IGT subjects retinal BDF correlated with and Total:HDL (p= 0.003) and HDL-C (p= 0.004). Arterial RT also correlated with FMD (p=0.017) in IGT but not NGT subjects. In IGT individuals there is a relationship between macro- and microvascular function, as well as a direct correlation between the observed retinal microcirculatory changes and established plasma markers for CVD. Multifactorial preventive interventions to decrease vascular risk in these individuals should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberIOVS-12-9512
Pages (from-to)5102-5108
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
Early online date28 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc


  • retinal vascular function
  • diabetes risk
  • cardiovascular risk


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