Importance Studies have shown oxidized low-density lipoprotein to be associated with the incidence of proliferative retinopathy and other complications of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Because low-risk interventions are available to modify oxidized low-density lipoprotein, it is important to examine the relationships between this factor and the incidence of proliferative retinopathy and of macular edema, 2 important causes of visual impairment in people with type 1 diabetes. Objective To determine the association of oxidized low-density lipoprotein with the worsening of diabetic retinopathy and the incidence of proliferative retinopathy and of macular edema. Design, Setting, and ParticipantsOf 996 participants with type 1 diabetes in the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy, 730 were examined up to 4 times (1990-1992, 1994-1996, 2005-2007, and 2012-2014) over 24 years and had assays of oxidized low-density lipoprotein and fundus photographs gradable for diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. Analyses started July 2014 and ended February 2015. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Worsening of diabetic retinopathy, incidence of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and incidence of macular edema as assessed via grading of color stereo film fundus photographs. The levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein collected from serum samples at the time of each examination were measured in 2013 and 2014 from frozen serum. Results The cohort at baseline had a mean (SD) level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein of 30.0 (8.5) U/L. While adjusting for duration of diabetes, glycated hemoglobin A1c level, and other factors, we found that neither the level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein at the beginning of a period nor the change in it over a certain period was associated with the incidence of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (hazard ratio [HR], 1.11 [95%CI, 0.91-1.35], P = .30; odds ratio [OR], 1.77 [95%CI, 0.99-3.17], P = .06), the incidence of macular edema (HR, 1.04 [95%CI, 0.83-1.29], P = .74; OR, 1.08 [95%CI, 0.44-2.61], P = .87), or the worsening of diabetic retinopathy (HR, 0.94 [95%CI, 0.83-1.07], P = .34; OR, 1.32 [95%CI, 0.83-2.09], P = .24). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Our findings do not provide evidence for a relationship between increasing levels of serum oxidized low-density lipoprotein and the incidence of macular edema or the worsening of diabetic retinopathy in persons with type 1 diabetes. The potential increase in the HR for incident proliferative retinopathy, with an increase in oxidized low-density lipoprotein level over the preceding period, warrants further investigation of this relationship.
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