Measuring visual cortical oxygenation in diabetes using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Ross T. Aitchison*, Laura Ward, Graeme J. Kennedy, Xinhua Shu, David C. Mansfield, Uma Shahani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Aims: Diabetes mellitus affects about 6% of the world’s population, and the chronic complications of the disease may result in macro- and micro-vascular changes. The purpose of the current study was to shed light on visual cortical oxygenation in diabetic individuals. We then aimed to compare the haemodynamic response (HDR) to visual stimulation with glycaemic control, given the likelihood of diabetic individuals suffering from such macro- and micro-vascular insult. Methodology: Thirty participants took part in this explorative study, fifteen of whom had diabetes and fifteen of whom were non-diabetic controls. The HDR, measured as concentrations of oxyhaemoglobin [HbO] and deoxyhaemoglobin [HbR], to visual stimulation was recorded over the primary visual cortex (V1) using a dual-channel oximeter. The stimulus comprised a pattern-reversal checkerboard presented in a block design. Participants’ mean glycated haemoglobin (HbA 1c) level (± SD) was 7.2 ± 0.6% in the diabetic group and 5.5 ± 0.4% in the non-diabetic group. Raw haemodynamic data were normalised to baseline, and the last 15 s of data from each ‘stimulus on’ and ‘stimulus off’ condition were averaged over seven duty cycles for each participant. Results: There were statistically significant differences in ∆[HbO] and ∆[HbR] to visual stimulation between diabetic and non-diabetic groups (p < 0.05). In the diabetic group, individuals with type 1 diabetes displayed an increased [HbO] (p < 0.01) and decreased [HbR] (p < 0.05) compared to their type 2 counterparts. There was also a linear relationship between both ∆[HbO] and ∆[HbR] as a function of HbA 1c level (p < 0.0005). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that fNIRS can be used as a quantitative measure of cortical oxygenation in diabetes. Diabetic individuals have a larger HDR to visual stimulation compared to non-diabetic individuals. This increase in ∆[HbO] and decrease in ∆[HbR] appears to be correlated with HbA 1c level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1189
Number of pages9
JournalActa Diabetologica
Issue number11
Early online date6 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • haemodynamic response · Functional near-infrared spectroscopy · Visual cortex · Diabetes · Autonomic dysfunction
  • autonomic dysfunction
  • visual cortex
  • diabetes
  • functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • spectroscopy, near-infrared/methods
  • humans
  • middle aged
  • oxygen consumption
  • oximetry/methods
  • male
  • visual cortex/blood supply
  • adult
  • diabetes mellitus, type 2/metabolism
  • female
  • aged
  • hemodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience
  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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