Retinal nerve fiber layer and macular thinning in systemic lupus erythematosus: An optical coherence tomography study comparing SLE and neuropsychiatric SLE

G. Y. Liu, T. O. Utset, J. T. Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Objective Due to the lack of reliable biomarkers in diagnosing and monitoring neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE), the aim of this study was to examine the utility of measurements obtained through spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) as a biomarker for NP involvement in SLE. Methods Retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and macula scans were performed using SD-OCT on 15 NPSLE patients, 16 SLE patients without NP symptoms (non-NP SLE), and 16 healthy controls. Macular volume and thickness of the central macula and peripapillary RNFL were compared between the groups and to scores on two validated cognitive tests. Results NPSLE patients did not differ significantly from non-NP SLE patients in retinal thickness or macular volume. However, SLE patients as a whole showed significant RNFL and macular thinning compared to controls. Scores on the Trail Making Test B, a test of complex attention, showed significant correlation to temporal superior and temporal inferior RNFL thickness. Conclusion Our results demonstrate RNFL thinning in SLE, and confirm the previous finding of high incidence of abnormal brain scans in SLE. These findings suggest that OCT measurements may be indicative of neurodegeneration in SLE and may be a useful biomarker for early cognitive impairment in SLE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1176
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 11 2015



  • Neuropsychiatric lupus
  • subacute lupus erythematosus
  • systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology

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