Ultraviolet (UV) is one of the most energetic radiations in the solar spectrum that can result in various tissue injury disorders. Previous studies demonstrated that UVA, which represents 95% of incident photovoltaic radiation, induces corneal endothelial cells (CECs) death. Programmed cell death (PCD) has been implicated in numerous ophthalmologic diseases. Here, we investigated receptor-interacting protein 3 kinase (RIPK3), a key signaling molecule of PCD, in UVA-induced injury using a short-term corneal endothelium (CE) culture model. UVA irradiation activated RIPK3 and mediated necroptosis both in mouse CE and primary human CECs (pHCECs). UVA irradiation was associated with upregulation of key necroptotic molecules (DAI, TRIF, and MLKL) that lie downstream of RIPK3. Moreover, RIPK3 inhibition or silencing in primary corneal endothelial cells suppresses UVA-induced cell death, along with downregulation of MLKL in pHCECs. In addition, genetic inhibition or knockout of RIPK3 in mice (RIPK3K51A and RIPK3-/- mice) similarly attenuates cell death and the levels of necroptosis in ex vivo UVA irradiation experiments. In conclusion, these results identify RIPK3, not RIPK1, as a critical regulator of UVA-induced cell death in CE and indicate its potential as a future protective target.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the efficacy of combined pneumatic and enzymatic vitreolysis for treatment of severe cases of vitreomacular traction (VMT). METHODS: We analyzed a retrospective, consecutive series of five patients diagnosed with severe VMT refractory to pneumatic vitreolysis who then received an additional ocriplasmin injection while their gas bubble from pneumatic vitreolysis was still present between February 2015 and February 2019. Vitreomacular traction release was confirmed using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. RESULTS: Four of the five patients treated with combined pneumatic and enzymatic vitreolysis achieved VMT release by Day 28, and all cases eventually achieved complete VMT release. In addition to having VMT refractory to pneumatic vitreolysis, patient characteristics included broad adhesion diameter (>1,500 µ m, n = 1), presence of epiretinal membrane (n = 2), age >65 years (n = 4), and pseudophakia (n = 1). The visual acuity improved by three or more lines at 6 months in both of the patients with initial vision worse than 20/50 on an Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study chart but not in those whose vision was already fairly good (i.e., visual acuity >20/60). None of the patients experienced the following complications after receiving this combined treatment: retinal tears or detachments, vitreous floaters, and ellipsoid zone changes. CONCLUSION: Sequential, combined pneumatic and enzymatic vitreolysis resulted in VMT release in all 5 cases (4 cases by 28 days) and may be a potentially useful alternative to surgical intervention for refractory VMT cases.
PURPOSE: There is a need for automated retinal optical coherence tomography (OCT) image analysis tools for quantitative measurements in small animals. Some image processing techniques for retinal layer analysis have been developed, but reports about how useful those techniques are in actual animal studies are rare. This paper presents the use of a retinal layer detection method we developed in an actual mouse study that involves wild type and mutated mice carrying photoreceptor degeneration. METHODS: Spectral domain OCT scanning was performed by four experimenters over 12 months on 45 mouse eyes that were wild-type, deficient for ephrin-A2 and ephrin-A3, deficient for rhodopsin, or deficient for rhodopsin, ephrin-A2 and ephrin-A3. The thickness of photoreceptor complex between the outer plexiform layer and retinal pigment epithelium was measured on two sides of the optic disc as the biomarker of retinal degeneration. All the layer detection results were visually confirmed. RESULTS: Overall, 96% (8519 out of 9000) of the half-side images were successfully processed using our technique in a semi-automatic manner. There was no significant difference in success rate between mouse lines (p = 0.91). Based on a human observer's rating of image quality for images successfully and unsuccessfully processed, the odds ratios for 'easily visible' images and 'not clear' images to be successfully processed is 62 and 4, respectively, against 'indistinguishable' images. Thickness of photoreceptor complex was significantly different across the quadrants compared (p < 0.001). It was also found that the average thickness based on 4-point sparse sampling was not significantly different from the full analysis, while the range of differences between the two methods could be up to about 6 μm or 16% for individual eyes. Differences between mouse lines and progressive thickness reduction were revealed by both sampling measures. CONCLUSIONS: Although the thickness of the photoreceptor complex layer is not even, manual sparse sampling may be as sufficiently accurate as full analysis in some studies such as ours, where the error of sparse sampling was much smaller than the effect size of rhodopsin deficiency. It is also suggested that the image processing method can be useful in actual animal studies. Even for images poorly visible to human eyes the image processing method still has a good chance to extract the complex layer.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: REALITY is an international observational retrospective registry of LHON patients evaluating the visual course and outcome in Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). SUBJECTS/METHODS: Demographics and visual function data were collected from medical charts of LHON patients with visual loss. The study was conducted in 11 study centres in the United States of America and Europe. The collection period extended from the presymptomatic stage to at least more than one year after onset of vision loss (chronic stage). A Locally Weighted Scatterplot Smoothing (LOWESS) local regression model was used to analyse the evolution of best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) over time. RESULTS: 44 LHON patients were included; 27 (61%) carried the m.11778G>A ND4 mutation, 8 (18%) carried the m.3460G>A ND1 mutation, and 9 (20%) carried the m.14484T>C ND6 mutation. Fourteen (32%) patients were under 18 years old at onset of vision loss and 5 (11%) were below the age of 12. The average duration of follow-up was 32.5 months after onset of symptoms. At the last observed measure, mean BCVA was 1.46 LogMAR in ND4 patients, 1.52 LogMAR in ND1 patients, and 0.97 LogMAR in ND6 patients. The worst visual outcomes were reported in ND4 patients aged at least 15 years old at onset, with a mean BCVA of 1.55 LogMAR and no tendency for spontaneous recovery. The LOESS modelling curve depicted a severe and permanent deterioration of BCVA. CONCLUSIONS: Amongst LHON patients with the three primary mtDNA mutations, adult patients with the m.11778G>A ND4 mutation had the worst visual outcomes, consistent with prior reports.
OBJECTIVE: To optimize the flanged belt-loop technique of scleral fixation through biomechanical testing and report clinical outcomes of resultant modifications. DESIGN: Experimental study. METHODS: The force to disinsert flanged polypropylene suture from human cadaveric sclera was assessed using a tensile testing machine and compared to the breaking strengths of 9-0 and 10-0 polypropylene. The effects of modifying suture gauge (5-0, 6-0, 7-0 or 8-0), amount of suture cauterized (0.5 or 1.0mm), and sclerotomy size (27-, 30-, 32-, 33-gauge) were investigated. Belt-loop intrascleral fixation using 6-0 and 7-0 polypropylene with 30- and 32-gauge needles respectively was performed in 5 patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Flanged suture disinsertion force in cadaveric sclera. RESULTS: The average force to disinsert a flange created by melting 1.0mm of 5-0, 6-0, 7-0 and 8-0 polypropylene suture from human cadaveric sclera via 27-, 30-, 32- and 33-gauge needle sclerotomies was 3.0 ± 0.5N, 2.1 ± 0.3N, 0.9 ± 0.2N and 0.4 ± 0.1N respectively. The disinsertion forces for flanges formed by melting 0.5mm of the same gauges were 72-79% lower (p < 0.001). In comparison, the breaking strengths of 9-0 and 10-0 polypropylene were 1.0 ± 0.2N and 0.5 ± 0.0N. Belt-loop fixation using 6-0 and 7-0 polypropylene with 30- and 32-gauge sclerotomies demonstrated good outcomes at 6 months. CONCLUSIONS: The flanged belt-loop technique is a biomechanically sound method of scleral fixation using 1.0mm flanges of 5-0 to 7-0 polypropylene paired with 27-, 30- and 32- gauge sclerotomies. In contrast, 8-0 polypropylene and 0.5 mm flanges of any suture gauge will likely be unstable with this technique.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating consequences on health and economy, even after the approval of safe and effective vaccines. Waning immunity, the emergence of variants of concern, breakthrough infections, and lack of global vaccine access and acceptance perpetuate the epidemic. Here, we demonstrate that a single injection of an adenoassociated virus (AAV)-based COVID-19 vaccine elicits at least 17-month-long neutralizing antibody responses in non-human primates at levels that were previously shown to protect from viral challenge. To improve the scalability of this durable vaccine candidate, we further optimized the vector design for greater potency at a reduced dose in mice and non-human primates. Finally, we show that the platform can be rapidly adapted to other variants of concern to robustly maintain immunogenicity and protect from challenge. In summary, we demonstrate this class of AAV can provide durable immunogenicity, provide protection at dose that is low and scalable, and be adapted readily to novel emerging vaccine antigens thus may provide a potent tool in the ongoing fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Zabaleta N, Dai W, Bhatt U, Hérate C, Maisonnasse P, Chichester JA, Sanmiguel J, Estelien R, Michalson KT, Diop C, Maciorowski D, Dereuddre-Bosquet N, Cavarelli M, Gallouët A-S, Naninck T, Kahlaoui N, Lemaitre J, Qi W, Hudspeth E, Cucalon A, Dyer CD, Pampena BM, Knox JJ, LaRocque RC, Charles RC, Li D, Kim M, Sheridan A, Storm N, Johnson RI, Feldman J, Hauser BM, Contreras V, Marlin R, Tsong Fang RH, Chapon C, van der Werf S, Zinn E, Ryan A, Kobayashi DT, Chauhan R, McGlynn M, Ryan ET, Schmidt AG, Price B, Honko A, Griffiths A, Yaghmour S, Hodge R, Betts MR, Freeman MW, Wilson JM, Le Grand R, Vandenberghe LH. An AAV-based, room-temperature-stable, single-dose COVID-19 vaccine provides durable immunogenicity and protection in non-human primates. Cell Host Microbe 2021;29(9):1437-1453.e8.Abstract
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has affected more than 185 million people worldwide resulting in over 4 million deaths. To contain the pandemic, there is a continued need for safe vaccines that provide durable protection at low and scalable doses and can be deployed easily. Here, AAVCOVID-1, an adeno-associated viral (AAV), spike-gene-based vaccine candidate demonstrates potent immunogenicity in mouse and non-human primates following a single injection and confers complete protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge in macaques. Peak neutralizing antibody titers are sustained at 1 year and complemented by functional memory T cell responses. The AAVCOVID vector has no relevant pre-existing immunity in humans and does not elicit cross-reactivity to common AAVs used in gene therapy. Vector genome persistence and expression wanes following injection. The single low-dose requirement, high-yield manufacturability, and 1-month stability for storage at room temperature may make this technology well suited to support effective immunization campaigns for emerging pathogens on a global scale.
Endomucin is a membrane-bound glycoprotein expressed luminally by endothelial cells that line postcapillary venules, a primary site of leukocyte recruitment during inflammation. Here we show that endomucin abrogation on quiescent endothelial cells enables neutrophils to adhere firmly, via LFA-1-mediated binding to ICAM-1 constitutively expressed by endothelial cells. Moreover, TNF-α stimulation downregulates cell surface expression of endomucin concurrent with increased expression of adhesion molecules. Adenovirus-mediated expression of endomucin under inflammatory conditions prevents neutrophil adhesion in vitro and reduces the infiltration of CD45(+) and NIMP-R14(+) cells in vivo. These results indicate that endomucin prevents leukocyte contact with adhesion molecules in non-inflamed tissues and that downregulation of endomucin is critical to facilitate adhesion of leukocytes into inflamed tissues.
Whole-brain networks derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data require the identification of seed and target regions of interest (ROIs) to assess connectivity patterns. This study investigated how initiating tracts from gray matter (GM) or white matter (WM) seed ROIs impacts (1) structural networks constructed from DTI data from healthy elderly (control) and individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and (2) between-group comparisons using these networks. DTI datasets were obtained from the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. Deterministic tractography was used to build two whole-brain networks for each subject; one in which tracts were initiated from WM ROIs and another in which they were initiated from GM ROIs. With respect to the first goal, in both groups, WM-seeded networks had approximately 400 more connections and stronger connections (as measured by number of streamlines per connection) than GM-seeded networks, but shared 94% of the connections found in the GM-seed networks. With respect to the second goal, between-group comparisons revealed a stronger subnetwork (as measured by number of streamlines per connection) in controls compared to AD using both WM-seeded and GM-seeded networks. The comparison using WM-seeded networks produced a larger (i.e., a greater number of connections) and more significant subnetwork in controls versus AD. Global, local, and nodal efficiency were greater in controls compared to AD, and between-group comparisons of these measures using WM-seeded networks had larger effect sizes than those using GM-seeded networks. These findings affirm that seed location significantly affects the ability to detect between-group differences in structural networks.
PURPOSE: Current sequencing strategies can genetically solve 55-60% of inherited retinal degeneration (IRD) cases, despite recent progress in sequencing. This can partially be attributed to elusive pathogenic variants (PVs) in known IRD genes, including copy-number variations (CNVs), which have been shown as major contributors to unsolved IRD cases. METHODS: Five hundred IRD patients were analyzed with targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS). The NGS data were used to detect CNVs with ExomeDepth and gCNV and the results were compared with CNV detection with a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array. Likely causal CNV predictions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). RESULTS: Likely disease-causing single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) and small indels were found in 55.6% of subjects. PVs in USH2A (11.6%), RPGR (4%), and EYS (4%) were the most common. Likely causal CNVs were found in an additional 8.8% of patients. Of the three CNV detection methods, gCNV showed the highest accuracy. Approximately 30% of unsolved subjects had a single likely PV in a recessive IRD gene. CONCLUSION: CNV detection using NGS-based algorithms is a reliable method that greatly increases the genetic diagnostic rate of IRDs. Experimentally validating CNVs helps estimate the rate at which IRDs might be solved by a CNV plus a more elusive variant.
PURPOSE: In Mendelian disease diagnosis, variant analysis is a repetitive, error-prone, and time consuming process. To address this, we have developed the Mendelian Analysis Toolkit (MATK), a configurable, automated variant ranking program. METHODS: MATK aggregates variant information from multiple annotation sources and uses expert-designed rules with parameterized weights to produce a ranked list of potentially causal solutions. MATK performance was measured by a comparison between MATK-aided and human-domain expert analyses of 1060 families with inherited retinal degeneration (IRD), analyzed using an IRD-specific gene panel (589 individuals) and exome sequencing (471 families). RESULTS: When comparing MATK-assisted analysis with expert curation in both the IRD-specific gene panel and exome sequencing (1060 subjects), 97.3% of potential solutions found by experts were also identified by the MATK-assisted analysis (541 solutions identified with MATK of 556 solutions found by conventional analysis). Furthermore, MATK-assisted analysis identified 114 additional potential solutions from the 504 cases unsolved by conventional analysis. CONCLUSION: MATK expedites the process of identification of likely solving variants in Mendelian traits, and reduces variability stemming from human error and researcher bias. MATK facilitates data reanalysis to keep up with the constantly improving annotation sources and next-generation sequencing processing pipelines. The software is open source and available at https://gitlab.com/matthew_maher/mendelanalysis.
Age is a major risk factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but the underlying cause is unknown. We find increased Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) signaling and M2 characteristics in eyes of aged mice, revealing immune changes in aging. ROCK isoforms determine macrophage polarization into M1 and M2 subtypes. M2-like macrophages accumulated in AMD, but not in normal eyes, suggesting that these macrophages may be linked to macular degeneration. M2 macrophages injected into the mouse eye exacerbated choroidal neovascular lesions, while M1 macrophages ameliorated them, supporting a causal role for macrophage subtypes in AMD. Selective ROCK2 inhibition with a small molecule decreased M2-like macrophages and choroidal neovascularization. ROCK2 inhibition upregulated M1 markers without affecting macrophage recruitment, underlining the plasticity of these macrophages. These results reveal age-induced innate immune imbalance as underlying AMD pathogenesis. Targeting macrophage plasticity opens up new possibilities for more effective AMD treatment.
Objective: To assess the effect of diabetic retinopathy (DR) on vision-related quality of life (VRQoL) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, patients with type 2 diabetes residing in 15 residency communities in Fushun, Liaoning province were enrolled from July 2012 to May 2013. We measured the VRQoL by the 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25). Patients were grouped according to their age, gender, presence of visual impairment, and affected eyes. NEI-VFQ-25 scores were compared between/among groups using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test or Kruskal-Wallis H test. The severity of DR in the eyes was graded into no DR, mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), moderate NPDR, severe NPDR, and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Severity scores from both eyes were then summarized to create a single per-person grade ranging from 1 (no DR in either eye) to 7 (bilateral PDR). Generalized linear models were used to assess the linear relationship between NEI-VFQ-25 scores and DR severity. Locally weighted scatterplot smoothing plots were generated to evaluate the possible nonlinear associations between concatenated severity of DR and VRQoL. Results: A total of 1 537 patients were recruited, including 836 (54.4%) with no DR, 479 (31.2%) with mild NPDR, 90 (5.9%) with moderate NPDR, 72 (4.7%) with severe NPDR and 60 (3.9%) with PDR. Compared with patients with unilateral DR, bilaterally involved subjects were statistically significantly compromised in general vision [70.2 (66.5, 72.5) vs. 68.9 (63.9, 71.6), Z=90.222, P=0.038], near activities [90.5 (85.8, 94.0) vs. 88.8 (84.5, 92.5), Z=114.942, P=0.005], dependency [91.1 (85.6, 96.5) vs. 89.3 (83.8, 94.5), Z=91.934, P=0.033], mental health [80.0 (73.4, 84.9) vs. 77.5 (70.8, 82.0), Z=118.388, P=0.003], role difficulties [76.8 (70.1, 82.4) vs. 74.5 (67.6, 80.6), Z =90.791, P=0.036] and NEI-VFQ-25 composite [88.3 (84.2, 91.0) vs. 86.9 (82.8, 90.1), Z=96.207, P=0.024]. Scores on general vision (χ2=85.665), near activities (χ2=78.462), distance activities (χ2=145.489), social function (χ2=53.629), dependency (χ2=86.710), mental health (χ2=68.281), role difficulties (χ2=45.357), color vision (χ2=68.176), peripheral vision (χ2=116.179) and NEI-VFQ-25 composite (χ2=133.291) decreased gradually as DR severity increased (all P<0.001). On role difficulties, locally weighted scatterplot smoothing plots showed significant"turning points"from bilateral mild NPDR to mild NPDR/>mild NPDR (slope m=-4.7) and from moderate NPDR/≥moderate NPDR to severe NPDR/≥severe NPDR (slope m=-12.6). Conclusion: Both greater severity and bilaterality of DR were associated with lower vision-specific VRQoL, particularly role difficulties and mental health.
Cannabis is the most prevalent drug in the world and its consumption is growing. Cannabinoid receptors are present in the human central nervous system. Recent studies show evidence of the effects of cannabinoids on the retina, and synthesising the results of these studies may be relevant for ophthalmologists. Thus, this review adopts standardised, systematic review methodology to investigate the effects of exposure to cannabis and components on the retina. We searched five online databases for the combined terms for outcome ("retina") and exposure ("cannabis"). Eligibility of studies were conducted by two independent reviewers, and risk of bias was assessed. We retrieved 495 studies, screened 229 studies, assessed 52 studies for eligibility, and included 16 studies for qualitative analysis. The cannabinoids most frequently investigated were delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), abnormal cannabidiol, synthetic cannabinoid, and cannabidiol (CDB). The outcomes most studied were neuroretinal dysfunction, followed by vascular effects. The studies also included investigation of neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects and teratogenic effects. This review suggests that cannabinoids may have an important role in retinal processing and function.
In a fibroblast colony model of corneal stromal development, we asked how physiological tension influences the patterning dynamics of fibroblasts and the orientation of deposited extracellular matrix (ECM). Using long-term live-cell microscopy, enabled by an optically accessible mechanobioreactor, a primary human corneal fibroblast colony was cultured on three types of substrates: a mechanically biased, loaded, dense, disorganized collagen substrate (LDDCS), a glass coverslip, and an unloaded, dense, disorganized collagen substrate (UDDCS). On LDDCS, fibroblast orientation and migration along a preferred angle developed early, cell orientation was correlated over long distances, and the colony pattern was stable. On glass, fibroblast orientation was poorly correlated, developed more slowly, and colony patterns were metastable. On UDDCS, cell orientation was correlated over shorter distances compared with LDDCS specimens. On all substrates, the ECM pattern reflected the cell pattern. In summary, mechanically biasing the collagen substrate altered the early migration behavior of individual cells, leading to stable emergent cell patterning, which set the template for newly synthesized ECM.
PURPOSE: MYOC (myocilin) mutations account for 3% to 5% of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) cases. We aimed to understand the true population-wide penetrance and characteristics of glaucoma among individuals with the most common MYOC variant (p.Gln368Ter) and the impact of a POAG polygenic risk score (PRS) in this population. DESIGN: Cross-sectional population-based study. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals with the p.Gln368Ter variant among 77 959 UK Biobank participants with fundus photographs (FPs). METHODS: A genome-wide POAG PRS was computed, and 2 masked graders reviewed FPs for disc-defined glaucoma (DDG). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Penetrance of glaucoma. RESULTS: Two hundred individuals carried the p.Gln368Ter heterozygous genotype, and 177 had gradable FPs. One hundred thirty-two showed no evidence of glaucoma, 45 (25.4%) had probable/definite glaucoma in at least 1 eye, and 19 (10.7%) had bilateral glaucoma. No differences were found in age, race/ethnicity, or gender among groups (P > 0.05). Of those with DDG, 31% self-reported or had International Classification of Diseases codes for glaucoma, whereas 69% were undiagnosed. Those with DDG had higher medication-adjusted cornea-corrected intraocular pressure (IOPcc) (P < 0.001) vs. those without glaucoma. This difference in IOPcc was larger in those with DDG with a prior glaucoma diagnosis versus those not diagnosed (P < 0.001). Most p.Gln368Ter carriers showed IOP in the normal range (≤21 mmHg), although this proportion was lower in those with DDG (P < 0.02) and those with prior glaucoma diagnosis (P < 0.03). Prevalence of DDG increased with each decile of POAG PRS. Individuals with DDG demonstrated significantly higher PRS compared with those without glaucoma (0.37 ± 0.97 vs. 0.01 ± 0.90; P = 0.03). Of those with DDG, individuals with a prior diagnosis of glaucoma had higher PRS compared with undiagnosed individuals (1.31 ± 0.64 vs. 0.00 ± 0.81; P < 0.001) and 27.5 times (95% confidence interval, 2.5-306.6) adjusted odds of being in the top decile of PRS for POAG. CONCLUSIONS: One in 4 individuals with the MYOC p.Gln368Ter mutation demonstrated evidence of glaucoma, a substantially higher penetrance than previously estimated, with 69% of cases undetected. A large portion of p.Gln368Ter carriers, including those with DDG, have IOP in the normal range, despite similar age. Polygenic risk score increases disease penetrance and severity, supporting the usefulness of PRS in risk stratification among MYOC p.Gln368Ter carriers.
BACKGROUND: The microvasculature, the smallest blood vessels in the body, has key roles in maintenance of organ health and tumorigenesis. The retinal fundus is a window for human in vivo noninvasive assessment of the microvasculature. Large-scale complementary machine learning-based assessment of the retinal vasculature with phenome-wide and genome-wide analyses may yield new insights into human health and disease. METHODS: We used 97 895 retinal fundus images from 54 813 UK Biobank participants. Using convolutional neural networks to segment the retinal microvasculature, we calculated vascular density and fractal dimension as a measure of vascular branching complexity. We associated these indices with 1866 incident International Classification of Diseases-based conditions (median 10-year follow-up) and 88 quantitative traits, adjusting for age, sex, smoking status, and ethnicity. RESULTS: Low retinal vascular fractal dimension and density were significantly associated with higher risks for incident mortality, hypertension, congestive heart failure, renal failure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, anemia, and multiple ocular conditions, as well as corresponding quantitative traits. Genome-wide association of vascular fractal dimension and density identified 7 and 13 novel loci, respectively, that were enriched for pathways linked to angiogenesis (eg, vascular endothelial growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor receptor, angiopoietin, and WNT signaling pathways) and inflammation (eg, interleukin, cytokine signaling). CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the retinal vasculature may serve as a biomarker for future cardiometabolic and ocular disease and provide insights into genes and biological pathways influencing microvascular indices. Moreover, such a framework highlights how deep learning of images can quantify an interpretable phenotype for integration with electronic health record, biomarker, and genetic data to inform risk prediction and risk modification.
PURPOSE: Despite widespread use of OCT, an early-stage imaging biomarker for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has not been identified. Pathophysiologically, the timing of drusen accumulation in relationship to photoreceptor degeneration in AMD remains unclear, as are the inherited genetic variants contributing to these processes. Herein, we jointly analyzed OCT, electronic health record data, and genomic data to characterize the time sequence of changes in retinal layer thicknesses in AMD, as well as epidemiologic and genetic associations between retinal layer thicknesses and AMD. DESIGN: Cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: Forty-four thousand eight hundred twenty-three individuals from the UK Biobank (enrollment age range, 40-70 years; 54% women; median follow-up, 10 years). METHODS: The Topcon Advanced Boundary Segmentation algorithm was used for retinal layer segmentation. We associated 9 retinal layer thicknesses with prevalent AMD (present at enrollment) in a logistic regression model and with incident AMD (diagnosed after enrollment) in a Cox proportional hazards model. Next, we associated AMD-associated genetic alleles, individually and as a polygenic risk score (PRS), with retinal layer thicknesses. All analyses were adjusted for age, age-squared (age2), sex, smoking status, and principal components of ancestry. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalent and incident AMD. RESULTS: Photoreceptor segment (PS) thinning was observed throughout the lifespan of individuals analyzed, whereas retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and Bruch's membrane (BM) complex thickening started after 57 years of age. Each standard deviation (SD) of PS thinning and RPE-BM complex thickening was associated with incident AMD (PS: hazard ratio [HR], 1.35; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-1.47; P = 3.7 × 10-11; RPE-BM complex: HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.06-1.22; P = 0.00024). The AMD PRS was associated with PS thinning (β, -0.21 SD per twofold genetically increased risk of AMD; 95% CI, -0.23 to -0.19; P = 2.8 × 10-74), and its association with RPE-BM complex was U-shaped (thinning with AMD PRS less than the 92nd percentile and thickening with AMD PRS more than the 92nd percentile). The loci with strongest support for genetic correlation were AMD risk-raising variants Complement Factor H (CFH):rs570618-T, CFH:rs10922109-C, and Age-Related Maculopathy Susceptibility 2 (ARMS2)/High-Temperature Requirement Serine Protease 1 (HTRA1):rs3750846-C on PS thinning and SYN3/Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloprotease 3 (TIMP3):rs5754227-T on RPE-BM complex thickening. CONCLUSIONS: Epidemiologically, PS thinning precedes RPE-BM complex thickening by decades and is the retinal layer most strongly predictive of future AMD risk. Genetically, AMD risk variants are associated with decreased PS thickness. Overall, these findings support PS thinning as an early-stage biomarker for future AMD development.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the retinal vasculature and vasoreactivity of patients with hypertension (HTN) using spectral domain optical coherence tomography angiography (SD-OCTA). METHODS: Patients with and without a diagnosis of HTN were included in this cross-sectional observational study. All eyes were imaged with SD-OCTA using 3 mm × 3 mm and 6 mm × 6 mm centered on both the fovea and optic disk. A second 6 mm × 6 mm scan was taken after a 30 s breath-hold. Vessel density (VD), vessel skeletonized density (VSD), and fractal dimension (FD) were calculated using customized MATLAB scripts. Vessel diameter index (VDI) was obtained by taking the ratio of VD to VSD. Vasoreactivity was measured by subtracting the VD or VSD before and after breath-hold (∆VD, ∆VSD). RESULTS: Twenty-three eyes with HTN (17 patients) and 17 control eyes (15 patients) were included. In the 6 mm × 6 mm angiogram centered on fovea, the superficial capillary plexus (SCP) VD (ß = - 0.029, p = 0.012), VSD (ß = - 0.004, p = 0.043) and the choriocapillaris VD (ß = - 0.021, p = 0.030) were significantly decreased in HTN compared to control eyes. Similarly, FD was decreased in both the SCP (ß = - 0.012, p = 0.013) and choriocapillaris (ß = - 0.009, p = 0.030). In the 3 mm × 3 mm angiogram centered on optic disk, SCP VDI (ß = - 0.364, p = 0.034) was decreased. ∆VD and ∆VSD were both reduced in the DCP (ß = - 0.034, p = 0.032; ß = - 0.013, p = 0.043) and ∆VSD was elevated in the choriocapillaris of HTN eyes (ß = 0.004, p = 0.032). CONCLUSIONS: The study used SD-OCTA to show significant differences in the retinal vasculature of hypertensive patients. It was also the first to demonstrate the potential of OCT-A to investigate retinal vascular reactivity in patients with HTN.