The relationship of retinal vessel diameter to changes in diabetic nephropathy structural variables in patients with type 1 diabetes

Diabetologia. 2010 Aug;53(8):1638-46. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-1763-3. Epub 2010 May 1.


Aims/hypothesis: We examined whether retinal vessel diameter in persons with type 1 diabetes mellitus is associated with changes in subclinical anatomical and functional indicators of diabetic nephropathy.

Methods: Persons with type 1 diabetes mellitus had gradable fundus photographs and renal biopsy data at baseline and 5-year follow-up (n = 234). Retinal arteriolar and venular diameters were measured at baseline and follow-up. Central retinal arteriole equivalent (CRAE) and central retinal venule equivalent (CRVE) were computed. Baseline and 5-year follow-up renal structural variables were assessed by masked electron microscopic morphometric analyses from percutaneous renal biopsy specimens. Variables assessed included: mesangial fractional volume, glomerular basement membrane width, mesangial matrix fractional volume and glomerular basement membrane width composite glomerulopathy index.

Results: While controlling for other covariates, baseline CRAE was positively associated with change in the glomerulopathy index over the 5-year period. Change in CRAE was inversely related to a change in mesangial matrix fractional volume and abnormal mesangial matrix fractional volume, while change in CRVE was directly related to change in the volume fraction of cortex that was interstitium [Vv((Int/cortex))] over the 5-year period. Baseline CRAE or CRVE or changes in these diameters were not related to changes in other anatomical or functional renal endpoints.

Conclusions/interpretation: Independently of other factors, baseline CRAE correlated with changes in glomerulopathy index, a composite measure of extracellular matrix accumulation in the mesangium and glomerular basement membrane. A narrowing of the CRAE was related to mesangial matrix accumulation. Changes in CRVE were related to changes in Vv((Int/cortex),) a measure of interstitial expansion in persons with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Vessels / pathology*
  • Retinal Vessels / physiopathology