Article Text

Download PDFPDF

OP-09 Structural correlations between brain magnetic resonance image-derived phenotypes and retinal neuroanatomy
  1. Zihan Sun1,
  2. Bing Zhang2,
  3. Stephen Smith3,
  4. Denize Atan4,5,
  5. Anthony P Khawaja1,
  6. Kelsey V Stuart1,
  7. Robert N Luben1,
  8. Mahantesh I Biradar1,
  9. Thomas McGillivray6,
  10. Praveen J Patel1,
  11. Peng T Khaw1,
  12. Axel Petzold7,8,
  13. Paul J Foster1
  1. 1NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK
  2. 2National Clinical Research Centre for Ocular Diseases, Eye Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
  3. 3Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN FMRIB), University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4Bristol Eye Hospital, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  5. 5Translational Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  6. 6Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  7. 7Queen Square Institute of Neurology, UCL, Department of Molecular Neurosciences, Moorfields Eye Hospital and The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK
  8. 8Departments of Neurology, Ophthalmology and Expertise Center for Neuro-ophthalmology, Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Introduction The eye is a well-established model of brain structure and function, yet region-specific structural correlations between the retina and the brain remain underexplored.

Aims To explore and describe the relationships between the retinal layer thicknesses and brain magnetic resonance image (MRI) derived phenotypes in UK Biobank.

Methods Participants with both quality-controlled optical coherence tomography (OCT) and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were eligible. Retinal sub-layer thicknesses and total macular thicknesses were derived from OCT scans. Brain image-derived phenotypes (IDPs) of 153 cortical and subcortical regions were processed from MRI scans. In this hypothesis-free study, we examined pairwise retinal-brain associations using multivariable linear regression models. All analyses were corrected for multiple testing and adjusted for confounders.

Results Data from 6,446 participants were included in this study. We identified highly significant associations between volumetric brain MRI measures of subregions in the occipital lobe (intracalcarine cortex), parietal lobe (postcentral gyrus), cerebellum (lobules VI, VIIb, VIIIa, VIIIb and IX) and deep brain structures (thalamus, hippocampus, caudate, putamen, pallidum and accumbens) with the thickness of the innermost retinal sub-layers and total macular thickness (all P<3.3×10-5). We did not observe statistically significant associations between brain IDPs and the thickness of the outer retinal sub-layers.

Conclusion Thinner inner and total retinal thicknesses are associated with smaller volumes of specific brain regions. These associations go beyond anatomically established retina-brain connections. Furthermore, the links between the normal variations in retinal and brain structures broaden our understanding of neurological ageing in general population.

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:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.