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PHS Monday Seminar- Natascha Merten, PhD: Common neurodegenerative processes in aging – Retinal thickness as a biomarker for sensorineural function in middle-aged adults
April 13, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Professor Karen Cruickshanks’ Lab
Population Health Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Abstract: Sensory impairments and cognitive decline are public health challenges in aging populations. They often co-occur in aging adults and a major underlying pathological pathway may be neurodegeneration. Early identification of people at risk for neurodegeneration might improve targeted treatment. Noninvasive, inexpensive screening tools are lacking but are of great potential. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) measures the thickness of nerve cell layers in the retina, which is an anatomical extension of the brain and might be reflective of common underlying neurodegeneration. We investigated the association of macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (mGCIPL) thickness with different cognitive and sensorineural functions in midlife in Beaver Dam Offspring Study participants. We found that thinner mGCIPL was associated with worse cognitive function, worse central auditory function and visual impairment and with hearing sensitivity in women only. MGCIPL thickness, therefore, has the potential as a common marker for neurodegeneration in middle-aged adults.