HealthDay News — Individuals with Alzheimer disease (AD) have changes in the retinal microvasculature in the superficial capillary plexus (SCP) compared with those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and controls, according to a study published online March 11 in Ophthalmology Retina.

Stephen P. Yoon, from the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to examine and compare the retinal microvasculature using optical coherence tomography angiography for 70 eyes from 39 AD patients, 72 eyes from 37 MCI patients, and 254 eyes from 133 controls.

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The researchers found that compared with MCI, AD patients had significantly decreased SCP vessel density (VD) and perfusion density (PD) in the 3-mm ring and 3-mm circle, as well as VD in the 6-mm circle; compared with cognitively intact controls, AD patients had a significantly decreased SCP VD and PD in the 3-mm ring and 3-mm circle, as well as PD in the 6-mm circle. MCI and controls had no difference in SCP VD or PD. Compared with MCI patients, AD patients had significantly decreased ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GC-IPL) thickness over the inferior and inferonasal sectors; compared with controls, AD patients had significantly decreased GC-IPL thickness over the whole, superonasal, inferior, and inferonasal sectors.

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“Future studies are needed to determine whether such tests will be able to detect progression of MCI to AD,” the authors write.

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