Association between retinal vascular caliber and brain structure in schizophrenia

Vittal Korann, Abhishek Appaji, Arpitha Jacob, Priyanka Devi, Bhargavi Nagendra, Dona Maria Chako, Ananth Padmanabha, Umesh Thonse, Rose Dawn Bharath, Vijay Kumar, Shivarama Varambally, Ganesan Venkatasubramanian, Shyam Vasudeva Rao, Carroll A.B. Webers, Tos T.J.M. Berendschot, Naren P. Rao (Corresponding author)

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Several lines of research in the last decade have indicated the potential utility of retina as a window to the brain. Emerging evidence suggests abnormalities in retinal vascular caliber in schizophrenia. However, the relationship between retinal vascular measures and brain structure has not been examined in schizophrenia to date. Hence, we examined the relationship between retinal vasculature measured using fundus photography and brain structure measured using magnetic resonance imaging.

We recruited 17 healthy volunteers and 20 patients with schizophrenia. Using a non-mydriatic camera, we captured the images for left and right eyes separately and retinal vascular calibers were calculated using a semi-automated software package. Whole-brain anatomical T1 MPRAGE images were acquired using a 3-Tesla MRI scanner. Whole-brain and regional volume and cortical thickness were calculated using the Freesurfer software package. We used FreeSurfer’s QDEC interface to compute vertex-by-vertex for analysis of the volume and cortical thickness. The relation between brain volume, cortical thickness, and retinal vascular caliber was examined using partial correlation and regression analysis.

There was a significant negative correlation between average CRVE and global cortical mean thickness in schizophrenia but not in healthy. In schizophrenia patients, there was a significant negative correlation between average CRVE and cortical thickness in frontal regions – left rostral middle frontal, left superior frontal, and right caudal middle frontal gyri and posterior brain regions – left lateral occipital gyrus and left posterior cingulate cortex.

The findings of the study suggest potential utility of retinal venular diameter as a proxy marker to abnormal neurodevelopment in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102707
Number of pages6
JournalAsian Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


Department of Science and Technology, Government of India - (PI- Dr. Naren P Rao; IFA/12/LSBM/36; SR/CSRI/138/2015; SR/SATYAM/304/2015). The funding agency had no role in the interpretation of data or manuscript preparation.

FundersFunder number
Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and TechnologySR/SATYAM/304/2015, IFA/12/LSBM/36, SR/CSRI/138/2015


    • Biomarker
    • fundus photography
    • Neurodevelopment
    • Psychosis
    • Structural MRI
    • Brain/diagnostic imaging
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • Frontal Lobe
    • Schizophrenia/diagnostic imaging
    • Humans
    • Cerebral Cortex


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