Association between macrophage-like cell density and ischemia metrics in diabetic eyes

Jay B. Bisen, Curtis J. Heisel, Brandon V. Duffy, Nicole L. Decker, Hisashi Fukuyama, Ghazi O. Boughanem, Amani A. Fawzi, Jeremy A. Lavine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We previously showed that macrophage-like cells (MLCs) are increased in eyes with advanced diabetic retinopathy (DR). Here, we hypothesized that MLC density was correlated with ischemia using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) and ultra-widefield fluorescein angiography (UWF-FA). Treatment-naïve diabetic eyes were prospectively imaged with repeated OCTA (average 5.3 scans per eye) and UWF-FA imaging. OCTA images were registered and averaged to generate a superficial capillary plexus (SCP), deep capillary plexus (DCP), and MLC slab. We calculated geometric perfusion deficit (GPD), vessel length density, and vessel density for the SCP and DCP. MLC density was quantified by two masked graders and averaged. Ischemia on UWF-FA was measured to generate a non-perfusion area (NPA) and index (NPI). Since MLC density was non-parametrically distributed, MLC density was correlated with ischemia metrics using Spearman correlations. Forty-five treatment-naïve eyes of 45 patients (59 ± 12 years of age; 56% female) were imaged. We included 6 eyes with no DR, 7 eyes with mild non-proliferative DR (NPDR), 22 moderate NPDR, 4 severe NPDR, and 6 PDR eyes. MLC density between graders was highly correlated (r = 0.9592, p < 0.0001). MLC density was correlated with DCP GPD (r = 0.296, p = 0.049), but no other OCTA ischemia metrics. MLC density was also correlated with UWF-FA NPA (r = 0.330, p = 0.035) and NPI (r = 0.332, p = 0.034). MLC density was correlated with total ischemia on UWF-FA and local DCP GPD. Since both UWF-FA and DCP non-perfusion are associated with higher risk for DR progression, MLC density could be another potential biomarker for DR progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109703
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Macrophage
  • Macrophage-like cell (MLC)
  • Macula
  • Retina
  • optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Ophthalmology


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