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OP-07 Retinal and cortical vascular function across the menstrual cycle
  1. Melissa E Wright1,
  2. Andrew Crofts1,
  3. Saajan Davies1,
  4. Hannah Chandler1,
  5. Ian Driver1,
  6. Michael Germuska1,
  7. Ylenia Giarratano2,
  8. Miguel O Bernabeu2,
  9. Louise Terry3,
  10. Jessica J Steventon4,
  11. Kevin Murphy1
  1. 1Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2Usher institute, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  4. 4Cardiff University Brain Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK


Introduction Oestrogen has a protective effect against neurodegenerative conditions, including glaucoma and dementia. Animal models suggest that oestrogen has a vasodilatory effect, which is a possible mechanism for this. However, the full influence of oestrogen on specific cerebrovascular functions is unclear.

Aims This study aims to investigate the influence of hormonal fluctuations across a healthy menstrual cycle on measures of retinal and cortical vascular functioning.

Methods 27 menstruating participants (age mean[SD]=22.94[3.52] years) completed a testing session during the early-follicular, late-follicular, and mid-luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. Bloods were taken to measure circulating hormones.

Retinal vasculature was assessed using a Swept-Source OCT (TOPCON healthcare), including:

  • Choroidal thickness – 6mm2 OCT scan

  • Vessel density, radius, and resistance – 3mm2 OCT Angiography

Cortical data were acquired on a Siemens MAGNETOM Prisma 3T MRI scanner and include:

  • Grey matter Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) and Arterial Arrival Time (AAT) – MPLD-pCASL scan

  • Global Oxygen Extraction Fraction (OEF) – TRUST sequence

Linear models investigated the amount of variance explained by circulating oestradiol.

Results Oestradiol significantly decreased retinal resistance (χ2(1)=6.1218, P=0.01335), an effect which was greatest in the foveal vessels. Other retinal measures were stable across the menstrual cycle. No association was found with OEF, but oestradiol did significantly increase CBF (χ2(1)=17.801; P=2.452e-5) and AAT (χ2(1)=9.5183; P=0.002034), which was a global effect.

Conclusion Evidence for oestrogen’s vasodilatory influence was demonstrated across a menstrual cycle and in multiple vascular beds. This provides information into how oestrogen influences the cerebrovascular system and highlights possible mechanisms by which oestrogen has a protective effect against neurodegenerative conditions.

Acknowledgements The Wellcome Trust (WT224267)

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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