Microcirculatory marker for the prediction of renal end points: a prospective cohort study in patients with chronic kidney disease stage 2 to 4.
Retinal arteriolar narrowing reflects aging, hypertension, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and other vascular processes. We examined the predictive value of retinal arteriolar narrowing alone and in combination with albuminuria on renal disease progression in CKD. A white CKD stage 2 to 4 cohort of 164 men and women (60.8±13.8 years) underwent retinal photography and determination of albuminuria. The calibers of all retinal arterioles were measured after digital conversion of the photographs. Cases of incident renal end points defined as 50% renal function loss and start of renal replacement therapy were identified and validated by case record reviews. Over an average period of 1410 (range, 106-1606) days, 25 patients with CKD had incident renal end points. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that patients with CKD within the tertile of narrowest arterioles had more renal end points (log-rank P<0.001). Cox regression analysis confirmed this before (?=1.183±0.411) and after adjusting for age and baseline renal function (?=1.204±0.416). With respect to renal end points, a significant interaction was present between narrow arterioles and albuminuria. The relative risk for renal end points of narrow arterioles was 3.7 (1.7-8.4), of albuminuria was 5.4 (2.5-12.0), and of combined narrow arterioles and albuminuria was 16.2 (4.6-57.2). Hence retinal arteriolar narrowing is related to incident renal end points. Narrow arterioles and albuminuria reveal a synergistic predictive value. The findings support a leading role of the microvasculature in the pathogenesis of renal disease progression. They also suggest that retinal photography in combination with albuminuria determination may be useful for risk stratification with respect to renal disease progression in patients with CKD stage 2 to 4.