Investigating Vascular Complexity and Neurogenic Alterations in Sectoral Regions of the Retina in Patients With Cognitive Impairment

Delia Cabrera DeBuc, William J. Feuer, Patrice J. Persad, Gabor Mark Somfai, Maja Kostic, Susel Oropesa, Carlos Mendoza Santiesteban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Evidence is accumulating that cognitive function, and visual impairment may be related. In this pilot study, we investigated whether multifractal dimension and lacunarity analyses performed in sectoral regions of the retina may reveal changes in patients with cognitive impairment (CI) that may be masked in the study considering the whole retinal branching pattern. Prospective age-matched subjects (n = 69) with and with no CI and without the presence of any ophthalmic history were recruited (age > 55+ years). The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was used to measure CI, and full-field electroretinogram (ERG) was performed. Also, visual performance exams were conducted using the Rabin cone contrast test (CCT). Quantification of the retinal structure was performed in retinal fundus images [45o field of view (FOV), optic disk centered] with excellent quality for all individuals [19 healthy controls (HC) and 20 patients with CI] after evaluating the inclusion and exclusion criteria in all study participants recruited (n = 69). The skeletonized vasculature network that comprised the whole branching pattern observable in the full 45° FOV was obtained for each image and divided into nine equal regions (superotemporal, superior, superonasal, macular, optic disk, nasal, inferotemporal, inferior, and inferonasal). The multifractal behavior was analyzed by calculating the generalized dimension Dq (Do, D1, and D2), the lacunarity parameter (Λ), and singularity spectrum f(α) in the nine sectoral skeletonized images as well as in the skeletons that comprised the whole branching pattern observable in the full 45° FOV. The analyses were performed using the ImageJ program together with the FracLac plug-in. Independent sample t-tests or Mann Whitney U test and Pearson correlation coefficient were used to find associations between all parameters in both groups. The effect size (Cohen’s d) of the difference between both groups was also assessed. A p-value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Significant correlations between multifractal and Λ parameters with the MoCA and implicit time ERG-parameter were observed in the regional analysis. In contrast, no trend was found when considering the whole retinal branching pattern. Analysis of combined structural-functional parameters in sectoral regions of the retina, instead of individual retinal biomarkers, may provide a useful clinical marker of CI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number570412
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 9 2020

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cognitive impairment
  • electroretinography
  • fractal dimension
  • neurodegeneration
  • retinal biomarkers
  • retinal vascular complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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