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Konstantinos Pappelis, Nomdo M. Jansonius; U-Shaped Effect of Blood Pressure on Structural OCT Metrics and Retinal Perfusion in Ophthalmologically Healthy Subjects. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(12):5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.12.5.
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We wanted to investigate the association of blood pressure (BP) status with the ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness of nonglaucomatous eyes and to elucidate whether this effect is related to vascular metrics proxying retinal perfusion.
For this case-control study, we prospectively included 96 eyes of 96 healthy subjects (age 50–65) from a large-scale population-based cohort in the northern Netherlands (n = 167,000) and allocated them to four groups (low BP, normal BP [controls], treated arterial hypertension [AHT], untreated AHT). We measured macular GCIPL and RNFL (mRNFL) and peripapillary RNFL (pRNFL) thicknesses with optical coherence tomography (OCT). We estimated retinal blood flow (RBF), retinal vascular resistance (RVR), and autoregulatory reserve (AR) from quantitative OCT-angiography, fundus imaging, BP, and intraocular pressure. We compared structural and vascular metrics across groups and performed mediation analysis.
Compared to controls, GCIPL was thinner in the low BP group (P = 0.013), treated hypertensives (P = 0.007), and untreated hypertensives (P = 0.007). Treated hypertensives exhibited the thinnest mRNFL (P = 0.001), temporal pRNFL (P = 0.045), and inferior pRNFL (P = 0.034). The association of GCIPL thickness with BP was mediated by RBF within the combined low BP group and controls (P = 0.003), by RVR and AR within the combined treated hypertensives and controls (P = 0.001, P = 0.032), and by RVR within the combined untreated antihypertensives and controls (P = 0.022).
Inner retinal thinning was associated with both tails of the BP distribution and with ineffective autoregulation. Longitudinal studies could clarify whether these defects can explain the reported glaucomatous predisposition of these population groups.
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