Proliferative retinopathy in diabetes tied to cerebral microangiopathy

Cerebral microbleeds, or microangiopathies, were more prevalent in patients with type 1 diabetes and proliferative retinopathy, researchers wrote in Diabetes Care.

Jorn Woerdeman, MD, of the department of internal medicine at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues examined 33 patients with diabetes and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR+), 34 patients with diabetes but without retinopathy (PDR–) and 33 controls who underwent MRI to assess cerebral microangiopathy and ischemic damage.

“Our results show that cerebral microbleeds, in contrast to ischemic small vessel disease, are more prevalent in PDR+ patients relative to the other groups,” researchers wrote. “The associations between cerebral microbleeds and peripheral microvascular function in skin [have] not been reported before and support the hypothesis that cerebral microbleeds are part of a generalized microvascular disorder, not limited to peripheral organs, such as the eyes and renal system.”

Cerebral microangiopathy was identified in 11 patients. Six patients had one microbleed, four had two and one patient had eight microbleeds, according to data.

They found that cerebral microbleeds, but not ischemic damage, were more prevalent in PDR+ patients (n=7; 21%) vs. PDR– patients (n=1; 3%; P=.01) vs. controls (n=3; 9%; P=.02). The researchers also reported a trend across groups for the lowest baseline capillary density in PDR+ patients (P=.05), according to data.

Capillary recruitment was impaired in patients who had cerebral microangiopathy compared with patients who did not (P=.04).

“More research in larger samples is needed to confirm and expand these findings,” researchers wrote.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.