Bacterial infections linked to severe diabetic retinopathy in type 1 diabetes, study finds

By Editor
27th July 2021
Diabetic retinopathy, Eyecare Research Type 1 diabetes

A new study has found bacterial infections are associated with an increased risk of severe diabetic retinopathy in people with type 1 diabetes.

Researchers from Finland and Australia set out to investigate the link as part of the FinnDiane Study, an ongoing nationwide multicentre study which started in 1997 to investigate risk factors for the chronic complications of type 1 diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is associated and shares many risk factors with other diabetic complications, including inflammation. Bacterial infections, potent inducers of inflammation, have been associated with the development of diabetic complications apart from DR.

The results found “Individuals with incident SDR (n=413) had a higher mean number of antibiotic purchases/follow-up year compared with individuals without incident SDR (n=630) (0.92 [95% CI 0.82 to 1.02] vs 0.67 [0.62–0.73], p=0.02), as well as higher levels of LPS activity (0.61 [0.58–0.65] vs 0.56 [0.54–0.59] EU/mL, p=0.03). Individuals with on average ≥1 purchase per follow-up year (n=269) had 1.5 times higher cumulative incidence of SDR, compared with individuals with <1 purchase (n=774) per follow-up year (52% vs 35%, p<0.001). In multivariable Cox survival models, the mean number of antibiotic purchases per follow-up year as well as LPS activity were risk factors for SDR after adjusting for static confounders (HR 1.16 [1.05–1.27], p=0.002 and HR 2.77 [1.92–3.99], p<0.001, respectively).”

Researchers concluded: “Bacterial infections are associated with an increased risk of incident severe diabetic retinopathy in type 1 diabetes.”

The study involved researchers from the University of Helsinki, Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Central Finland Central Hospital, Helsinki’s National Institute for Health and Welfare, and Monash University Central Clinical School in Melbourne.

Read the full report here.

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