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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 7;10(8):e0134750. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134750. eCollection 2015.

Optical Coherence Tomography in Alzheimer's Disease: A Meta-Analysis.

Author information

G.B. Bietti Foundation-IRCCS, Department of Neurophysiology of Vision and Neurophthalmology, Rome, Italy.
Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Dipartimento Tecnologie e Salute, Rome, Italy.
Tor Vergata University of Rome, Department of Clinical Sciences and Translation Medicine; Rome, Italy.
IRCCS Istituto Scientifico San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.
Sapienza University of Rome Polo Pontino, Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Latina, Italy; IRCCS-Neuromed, Pozzilli (IS), Italy.
Doheny Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.



Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, which is likely to start as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) several years before the its full-blown clinical manifestation. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been used to detect a loss in peripapillary retina nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and a reduction in macular thickness and volume of people affected by MCI or AD. Here, we performed an aggregate meta-analysis combining results from different studies.


Data sources were case-control studies published between January 2001 and August 2014 (identified through PubMed and Google Scholar databases) that examined the RNFL thickness by means of OCT in AD and MCI patients compared with cognitively healthy controls.


11 studies were identified, including 380 patients with AD, 68 with MCI and 293 healthy controls (HC). The studies suggest that the mean RNFL thickness is reduced in MCI (weighted mean differences in μm, WMD = -13.39, 95% CI: -17.34 to -9.45, p = 0.031) and, even more so, in AD (WMD = -15.95, 95% CI: -21.65 to -10.21, p<0.0001) patients compared to HC. RNFL in the 4 quadrants were all significantly thinner in AD superior (superior WMD = -24.0, 95% CI: -34.9 to -13.1, p<0.0001; inferior WMD = -20.8, 95% CI: -32.0 to -9.7, p<0.0001; nasal WMD = -14.7, 95% CI: -23.9 to -5.5, p<0.0001; and temporal WMD = -10.7, 95% CI: -19.9 to -1.4, p<0.0001); the same significant reduction in quadrant RNFL was observed in MCI patients compared with HC (Inferior WMD = -20.22, 95% CI: -30.41 to -10.03, p = 0.0001; nasal WMD = -7.4, 95% CI: -10.08 to -4.7, p = 0.0000; and temporal WMD = -6.88, 95% CI: -12.62 to -1.13, p = 0.01), with the exception of superior quadrant (WMD = -19.45, 95% CI: -40.23 to 1.32, p = 0.06).


Results from the meta-analysis support the important role of OCT for RNFL analysis in monitoring the progression of AD and in assessing the effectiveness of purported AD treatments.

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