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Mingguang He, Yingfeng Zheng, Jian Zhang, Dandan Wang; Phenotypic and Genetic Correlation of Blood Pressure and Body Mass Index with Retinal Vascular Caliber in Children and Adolescents: A Twin Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):3617.
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Structural changes of microvasculature in hypertension and obesity are not fully understood. We examined the phenotypic and genetic associations of blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) with retinal vascular caliber, which is an early marker of microvascular damage.
A total of 657 monozygotic and 378 dizygotic twin pairs aged 7 to 19 years, recruited from the Guangzhou Twin Registry, had digital retinal photographs and measurements of retinal vascular caliber.
Increased mean arterial pressure (MAP) and higher BMI were associated with retinal arteriolar narrowing (both p<0.001); retinal arteriolar caliber decreased by 1.48µm for each 10mmHg increase in MAP, and by 0.3µm for each kg/m2 increase in BMI. The presence of prehypertension (β=2.06, p=0.01), hypertension (β=2.17, p=0.02), overweight (β=2.24, p=0.01), or obesity (β=2.76, p=0.04) was associated with narrower retinal arteriole. These phenotypic correlations were predominantly explained by shared genetic factors. There was an interaction between BMI and MAP values (p for continuous by continuous interaction=0.03) and retinal arteriole was narrower among persons with hypertension and obesity than those with one or neither (p for interaction=0.08). Higher BMI was significantly associated with retinal venular widening (p<0.001), but there was little evidence of shared genetic or environmental influences.
Increased blood pressure, high BMI, and their joint effect already have influences on retinal vasculature in children and adolescents. The majority of phenotypic correlations between blood pressure, BMI, and retinal vasculature are attributable to genetic sharing.
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