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Associations between depression and anxiety symptoms and retinal vessel caliber in adolescents and young adults


Meier, MH and Gillespie, NA and Hansell, NK and Hewitt, AW and Hickie, IB and Lu, Y and MacGregor, S and Medland, SE and Sun, C and Wong, TY and Wright, M and Zhu, G and Martin, NG and Mackey, DA, Associations between depression and anxiety symptoms and retinal vessel caliber in adolescents and young adults, Psychosomatic Medicine, 76, (9) pp. 732-738. ISSN 0033-3174 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000117


OBJECTIVE: Previous longitudinal studies suggest that depression and anxiety are associated with risk for cardiovascular disease. The aim of the present study was to test whether an association between depression and anxiety symptoms and retinal vessel caliber, an indicator of subclinical cardiovascular risk, is apparent as early as adolescence and young adulthood.

METHODS: Participants were 865 adolescents and young adults who participated in the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study and the Twin Eye Study in Tasmania. Participants completed an assessment of depression/anxiety symptoms (the Somatic and Psychological Health Report) when they were 16.5 years old (mean age), and they underwent retinal imaging, on average, 2.5 years later (range, 2 years before to 7 years after the depression/anxiety assessment). Retinal vessel caliber was assessed using computer software.

RESULTS: Depression and anxiety symptoms were associated with wider retinal arteriolar caliber in this sample of adolescents and young adults (β = 0.09, p = .016), even after adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors (β = 0.08, p = .025). Multiple regression analyses revealed that affective symptoms of depression/anxiety were associated with retinal vessel caliber independently of somatic symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Depression and anxiety symptoms are associated with measurable signs in the retinal microvasculature in early life, suggesting that pathological microvascular mechanisms linking depression/anxiety and cardiovascular disease may be operative from a young age.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:depression, anxiety, retinal vessel caliber, cardiovascular, adolescence, young adults
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Ophthalmology and optometry
Research Field:Ophthalmology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Hewitt, AW (Professor Alex Hewitt)
UTAS Author:Mackey, DA (Professor David Mackey)
ID Code:112609
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-11-17
Last Modified:2017-11-07

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