Serum Apolipoprotein AI and B Are Stronger Biomarkers of Diabetic Retinopathy Than Traditional Lipids Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To describe and compare the associations of serum lipoproteins and apolipoproteins with diabetic retinopathy. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of 224 diabetic patients (85 type 1 and 139 type 2) from a diabetes clinic. Diabetic retinopathy was graded from fundus photographs according to the Airlie House Classification system and categorized into mild, moderate, and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy (VTDR). Serum traditional lipids (total, LDL, non-HDL, and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides) and apolipoprotein AI (apoAI), apolipoprotein B (apoB), and the apoB-to-apoAI ratio were assessed. RESULTS: Diabetic retinopathy was present in 133 (59.4%) individuals. After adjustment for age, sex, diabetes duration, A1C, systolic blood pressure, and diabetes medications, the HDL cholesterol level was inversely associated with diabetic retinopathy (odds ratio 0.39 [95% CI 0.16-0.94], highest versus lowest quartile; P(trend) = 0.017). The ApoAI level was inversely associated with diabetic retinopathy (per SD increase, 0.76 [95% CI 0.59-0.98]), whereas apoB (per SD increase, 1.31 [1.02-1.68]) and the apoB-to-apoAI ratio (per SD increase, 1.48 [1.13-1.95]) were positively associated with diabetic retinopathy. Results were similar for mild to moderate diabetic retinopathy and VTDR. Traditional lipid levels improved the area under the receiver operating curve by 1.8%, whereas apolipoproteins improved the area by 8.2%. CONCLUSIONS: ApoAI and apoB and the apoB-to-apoAI ratio were significantly and independently associated with diabetic retinopathy and diabetic retinopathy severity and improved the ability to discriminate diabetic retinopathy by 8%. Serum apolipoprotein levels may therefore be stronger biomarkers of diabetic retinopathy than traditional lipid measures.


  • Sasongko, MB
  • Wong, TY
  • Nguyen, TT
  • Kawasaki, R
  • Jenkins, A
  • Shaw, J
  • Wang, JJ

publication date

  • February 1, 2011