Patients with early age-related macular degeneration exhibit signs of macro- and micro-vascular disease and abnormal blood glutathione levels

  • Lu Qin
  • Stephanie A. Mroczkowska
  • Aniko Ekart
  • Sunni R. Patel
  • Jonathan M. Gibson
  • Doina Gherghel
Retinal Disorders



This pilot study aimed to investigate systemic and retinal vascular function and their relationship to circulatory markers of cardiovascular risk in early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients without any already diagnosed systemic vascular pathologies.


Fourteen patients diagnosed with early AMD and 14 age- and gender-matched healthy controls underwent blood pressure, carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT) and peripheral arterial stiffness measurements. Retinal vascular reactivity was assessed by means of dynamic retinal vessel analysis (DVA) using a modified protocol. Blood analyses were conducted for glutathione levels and plasma levels of total cholesterol (CHOL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides (TG).


The AMD patients showed significantly greater C-IMT (p = 0.029) and augmentation index (AIx) (p = 0.042) than the age-matched controls. In addition, they demonstrated a shallower retinal arterial dilation slope (Slope AD) (p = 0.005) and a longer retinal venous reaction time (RT) to flickering light (p = 0.026). Blood analyses also revealed that AMD patients exhibited higher oxidized glutathione (GSSG) (p = 0.024), lower redox index (p = 0.043) and higher LDL-C (p = 0.033) levels than the controls. Venous RT parameter correlated positively with blood GSSG levels (r = 0.58, p = 0.038) in AMD subjects, but not in the controls (p > 0.05).


Patients diagnosed with early AMD exhibit signs of systemic and retinal vascular alterations that correlated with known risk markers for future cardiovascular morbidity.


Age-related macular degeneration Retinal vascular function Oxidative stress Cardiovascular risk 


Declaration of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lu Qin
    • 1
  • Stephanie A. Mroczkowska
    • 1
  • Aniko Ekart
    • 2
  • Sunni R. Patel
    • 1
  • Jonathan M. Gibson
    • 1
  • Doina Gherghel
    • 1
  1. 1.Vascular Research Laboratory, Ophthalmic Research Group, School of Life and Health SciencesAston UniversityBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied SciencesAston UniversityBirminghamUK

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