Diabetic retinopathy as a potential marker of Parkinson's disease: a register-based cohort study

Brain Commun. 2021 Nov 8;3(4):fcab262. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcab262. eCollection 2021.


Neurodegeneration is an early event in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy, and an association between diabetic retinopathy and Parkinson's disease has been proposed. In this nationwide register-based cohort study, we investigated the prevalence and incidence of Parkinson's disease among patients screened for diabetic retinopathy in a Danish population-based cohort. Cases (n = 173 568) above 50 years of age with diabetes included in the Danish Registry of Diabetic Retinopathy between 2013 and 2018 were matched 1:5 by gender and birth year with a control population without diabetes (n = 843 781). At index date, the prevalence of Parkinson's disease was compared between cases and controls. To assess the longitudinal relationship between diabetic retinopathy and Parkinson's disease, a multivariable Cox proportional hazard model was estimated. The prevalence of Parkinson's disease was 0.28% and 0.44% among cases and controls, respectively. While diabetic retinopathy was not associated with present (adjusted odds ratio 0.93, 95% confidence interval 0.72-1.21) or incident Parkinson's disease (adjusted hazard ratio 0.77, 95% confidence interval 0.56-1.05), cases with diabetes were in general less likely to have or to develop Parkinson's disease compared to controls without diabetes (adjusted odds ratio 0.79, 95% confidence interval 0.71-0.87 and adjusted hazard ratio 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.78-1.00). In a national cohort of more than 1 million persons, patients with diabetes were 21% and 12% were less likely to have prevalent and develop incident Parkinson's disease, respectively, compared to an age- and gender-matched control population without diabetes. We found no indication for diabetic retinopathy as an independent risk factor for incident Parkinson's disease.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; diabetes; diabetic retinopathy; epidemiology; neurodegeneration.