The In Vivo Correlation between Retinal Pigment Epithelium Thickness and Quantitative Fundus Autofluorescence in a White Population

Mariano Cozzi, Francesco Viola, Maria Belotti, Mario Cigada, Svetlana Cherepanoff, Giovanni Staurenghi, Alessandro Invernizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To investigate the influence of age on the thickness of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)/Bruch's membrane (BM) complex and the quantitative autofluorescence (qAF) and to study the possible correlation existing between these 2 parameters in a healthy White population. Design: Cross-sectional, observational study. Participants: Healthy White volunteers aged 18 to 65 years. Methods: All subjects underwent spectral domain OCT (SD-OCT) and qAF imaging with the Heidelberg HRA-Spectralis (Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany). Spectral domain OCT images were analyzed using the in-built graph-based automatic segmentation algorithm for single retinal layer identification to assess RPE/BM complex thickness in vivo. The thickness values of both inner and outer rings of the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) grid, generated by the software using the “RPE” segmentation, were averaged to obtain a single RPE/BM complex thickness value in each eye. Quantitative autofluorescence images were also evaluated using a dedicated software. The qAF values of 8 subfields forming a ring centered onto the fovea were collected and averaged to obtain a single qAF value (qAF8) in each eye. The correlation among the RPE/BM complex thickness, the qAF value, and the age of the subjects was investigated. Main Outcome Measures: The in vivo correlation between RPE/BM complex thickness and qAF. Results: A total of 105 eyes from 105 subjects (mean age, 42.1 ± 13.9 years; range, 18–65) were included in the analysis. The mean RPE/BM complex thickness significantly increased with age (r = 0.33, P = 0.0006). The values of qAF also positively increased with age (P < 0.0001). A significant correlation was found between qAF and RPE/BM complex thickness (r = 0.27, P = 0.004). After adjusting for age, iris color, and gender, the correlation remained significant only for subjects aged less than 40 years (P = 0.009). Conclusions: BM complex thickness was significantly co/BM complex thickness increased with age in a healthy White population. A similar increase was found for qAF values. After adjusting for age and iris color, qAF and RPE/BM complex thickness were still correlated in subjects aged less than 40 years. The RPE/BM complex thickness could reflect the lipofuscin/melanolipofuscin accumulation in normal subjects, adding great interest in RPE cell biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-373
Number of pages9
JournalOphthalmology Retina
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Lipofuscin
  • OCT
  • Quantitative fundus autofluorescence
  • Retinal pigment epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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