Introduction: We propose a minimum data set framework for the acquisition and analysis of retinal images for the development of retinal Alzheimer's disease (AD) biomarkers. Our goal is to describe methodology that will increase concordance across laboratories, so that the broader research community is able to cross-validate findings in parallel, accumulate large databases with normative data across the cognitive aging spectrum, and progress the application of this technology from the discovery stage to the validation stage in the search for sensitive and specific retinal biomarkers in AD. Methods: The proposed minimum data set framework is based on the Atlas of Retinal Imaging Study (ARIAS), an ongoing, longitudinal, multi-site observational cohort study. However, the ARIAS protocol has been edited and refined with the expertise of all co-authors, representing 16 institutions, and research groups from three countries, as a first step to address a pressing need identified by experts in neuroscience, neurology, optometry, and ophthalmology at the Retinal Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease (RIAD) conference, convened by the Alzheimer's Association and held in Washington, DC, in May 2019. Results: Our framework delineates specific imaging protocols and methods of analysis for imaging structural changes in retinal neuronal layers, with optional add-on procedures of fundus autofluorescence to examine beta-amyloid accumulation and optical coherence tomography angiography to examine AD-related changes in the retinal vasculature. Discussion: This minimum data set represents a first step toward the standardization of retinal imaging data acquisition and analysis in cognitive aging and AD. A standardized approach is essential to move from discovery to validation, and to examine which retinal AD biomarkers may be more sensitive and specific for the different stages of the disease severity spectrum. This approach has worked for other biomarkers in the AD field, such as magnetic resonance imaging; amyloid positron emission tomography; and, more recently, blood proteomics. Potential context of use for retinal AD biomarkers is discussed.
|Alzheimer's and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring
|Published - 2020