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Cecilia Chao, Rachel Wang, Morgan Jones, Nicole Karson, Allison Jussel, Jennyffer Smith, Kathryn Richdale, Wendy Harrison; The Relationship Between Corneal Nerve Density and Hemoglobin A1c in Patients With Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(12):26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.12.26.
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Decreased corneal nerve fiber density and higher corneal epithelial dendritic cells have been reported in established patients with type 2 diabetes; however, alterations in the subbasal nerve plexus in prediabetes with healthy subjects or subjects with diabetes is limited. The study aimed to determine corneal nerve fiber density and morphology and dendritic cell density between healthy subjects and those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Fifty-two subjects (aged 30–70 years) were recruited. Blood samples and body metrics were taken. Subjects were grouped as: healthy controls (hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c] < 5.7%), prediabetes (5.7–6.4%), and type 2 diabetes (> 6.4% or physician diagnosis). Central corneal subbasal nerve plexus was imaged using in vivo confocal microscopy. Corneal nerve fiber density and morphology, including interconnections and tortuosity, and dendritic cell density were assessed. Kruskal-Wallis tests were carried out to compare differences in the examined variables between groups. Spearman correlations were carried out to examine the associations between body metrics with HbA1c and corneal findings.
Seventeen healthy controls, 20 subjects with prediabetes, and 15 subjects with type 2 diabetes completed this study. Central corneal nerve fiber density was significantly lower in type 2 diabetes compared to prediabetes (P = 0.045) and healthy controls (P = 0.001). No differences were found in central corneal nerve fiber interconnections, tortuosity, or dendritic cell density between groups. There was a significant association between HbA1c and corneal nerve fiber density (rho = −0.45, P = 0.001) and body mass index (BMI; rho = −0.30, P = 0.04).
Increased HbA1c values are associated with decreased corneal nerve fiber density across the spectrum of type 2 diabetes.
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