Identifying Peripapillary Radial Capillary Plexus Alterations in Parkinson’s Disease Using OCT Angiography

Published:March 10, 2021DOI:


      To compare radial peripapillary capillary (RPC) plexus vascular parameters and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness between those with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and controls.


      Prospective, cross-sectional study.


      A total of 151 eyes of 81 PD participants and 514 eyes of 266 controls.


      Participants underwent OCT angiography (OCTA) imaging using the Zeiss Cirrus HD-5000 AngioPlex (Carl Zeiss AG). Capillary perfusion density (CPD) and capillary flux index (CFI) were assessed using a 4.5 × 4.5-mm peripapillary scan, and RNFL thickness was assessed using a 200 × 200-μm optic nerve cube OCT scan. Hoehn and Yahr clinical staging for PD was determined by an experienced movement disorders specialist. Generalized estimating equations adjusted for age and sex were used for analysis.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Differences in RNFL thickness, CPD, and CFI as assessed using multivariable generalized estimating equations between individuals with PD and controls.


      After adjustment for age and sex, average CPD (0.446% ± 0.018% vs. 0.439% ± 0.017%, P < 0.001) and CFI (0.434 ± 0.031 vs. 0.426 ± 0.036, P = 0.008) were significantly higher in PD eyes. Average RNFL thickness was similar between groups (PD 89.71 ± 10.45 μm vs. control 88.20 ± 10.33 μm, P = 0.19). Significant correlations between Hoehn and Yahr stage and OCTA parameters were not observed. The OCTA parameters were not significantly different between eyes of the same patient.


      Increased peripapillary microvascular density and flux were detected in a large cohort of individuals with PD compared with controls after adjusting for age and sex; however, RNFL thickness was similar between groups. Peripapillary OCTA parameters may not correlate with the severity of PD. OCTA may serve as a noninvasive method to identify novel biomarkers for the early diagnosis of PD; as such, this methodology deserves further investigation.


      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      CFI (capillary flux index), CI (confidence interval), CPD (capillary perfusion density), OCTA (OCT angiography), PD (Parkinson’s disease), RNFL (retinal nerve fiber layer), RPC (radial peripapillary capillary)
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