Association of retinal venular tortuosity with impaired renal function in the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing

R. A. O'Neill, A. P. Maxwell, F. Kee, I. Young, B. McGuinness, R. E. Hogg, McKay Gj*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Previous studies have identified retinal microvascular features associated with renal dysfunction. Biopsies are necessary to confirm kidney microvascular damage and retinal imaging may enable evaluation of microangiopathic characteristics reflecting renal changes associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We evaluated retinal microvascular parameters (RMPs) for associations with renal function in a cross-sectional analysis of the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Methods: RMPs (central retinal arteriolar/ venular equivalents [CRAE/CRVE], arteriolar to venular ratio [AVR], fractal dimension and tortuosity) were measured from optic disc centred fundus images using semi-automated software. Associations were assessed with multivariable regression analyses between RMPs and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) defined by serum creatinine (eGFRscr) and cystatin C (eGFRcys) and also CKD status characterised by eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73m2. Regression models were adjusted for potential confounders including age, sex, diabetes, smoking status, educational attainment, cardiovascular disease, body mass index, antihypertensive medication, systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, high- and low-density lipoprotein levels. Results: Data were included for 1860 participants that had measures of renal function and retinal fundus images of sufficient quality for analysis. Participants had a mean age of 62.0 ± 8.5 yrs. and 53% were female. The mean eGFR for scr and cys were 82.2 ± 14.9 mL/min/1.73m2 and 70.7 ± 18.6 mL/min/1.73m2 respectively. eGFRcys provided lower estimates than eGFRscr resulting in a greater proportion of participants categorised as having CKD stages 3-5 (eGFRcys 26.8%; eGFRscr 7.9%). Multivariable regression analyses showed that increased venular tortuosity (OR = 1.30; 95%CI: 1.10, 1.54; P < 0.01) was associated with CKD stages 3-5 characterised by eGFRscr < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. No additional associations between CKD status characterised by eGFRscr or with eGFRcys, were detected (P > 0.05). Multivariable regression failed to detect associations between CRAE, CRVE, AVR, fractal dimension or tortuosity and eGFRscr or eGFRcys (P > 0.05). Conclusion: Increased retinal venular tortuosity was associated with CKD stages 3-5 defined by eGFRscr < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2, in an older population independent of potential confounding factors. These retinal measures may provide non-invasive microvascular assessment of associations with CKD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number382
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Nephrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03 Sept 2020


  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Estimated glomerular filtration rate
  • Renal function
  • Retinal microvascular parameters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of retinal venular tortuosity with impaired renal function in the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this