Changes of the retinal and choroidal vasculature in cerebral small vessel disease

Clara F. Geerling, Jan H. Terheyden, S. Magdalena Langner, Christine Kindler, Vera C. Keil, Christopher A. Turski, Gabrielle N. Turski, Maximillian W. M. Wintergerst, Gabor C. Petzold, Robert P. Finger

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Cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) is associated with changes in the retinal vasculature which can be assessed non-invasively with much higher resolution than the cerebral vasculature. To detect changes at a microvascular level, we used optical coherence tomography angiography which resolves retinal and choroidal vasculature. Participants with CSVD and controls were included. White matter lesions were determined on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The retinal and choroidal vasculature were quantified using swept-source optical coherence tomography angiography. Data were analysed using linear regression. We included 30 participants (18 females; patients, n = 20; controls, n = 10) with a mean age of 61 ± 10 years. Patients had a higher mean white matter lesion index and number of lesions than controls (p ≤ 0.002). The intraindividual deviation of choriocapillaris reflectivity differed significantly between age-matched patients (0.234 ± 0.012) and controls (0.247 ± 0.011; p = 0.029). Skeleton density of the deep retinal capillaries was significantly associated with the number of lesions on MRI (β = − 5.3 × 108, 95%-confidence interval [− 10.3 × 108; − 0.2 × 108]) when controlling for age. The choroidal microvasculature and the deep retinal vascular plexus, as quantified by optical coherence tomography angiography, are significantly altered in CSVD. The value of these findings in diagnosing or monitoring CSVD need to be assessed in future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3660
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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