The inferior whorl for detecting diabetic peripheral neuropathy using corneal confocal microscopy

Petropoulos, Ioannis N., Ferdousi, Maryam, Marshall, Andrew, Alam, Uazman, Ponirakis, Georgios, Azmi, Shazli, Fadavi, Hassan, Efron, Nathan, Tavakoli, Mitra, & Malik, Rayaz A. (2015) The inferior whorl for detecting diabetic peripheral neuropathy using corneal confocal microscopy. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 56(4), pp. 2489-2504.

View at publisher (open access)



In vivo corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) is increasingly used as a surrogate endpoint in studies of diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN). However, it is not clear whether imaging the central cornea provides optimal diagnostic utility for DPN. Therefore, we compared nerve morphology in the central cornea and the inferior whorl, a more distal and densely innervated area located inferior and nasal to the central cornea.


A total of 53 subjects with type 1/type 2 diabetes and 15 age-matched control subjects underwent detailed assessment of neuropathic symptoms (NPS), deficits (neuropathy disability score [NDS]), quantitative sensory testing (vibration perception threshold [VPT], cold and warm threshold [CT/WT], and cold- and heat-induced pain [CIP/HIP]), and electrophysiology (sural and peroneal nerve conduction velocity [SSNCV/PMNCV], and sural and peroneal nerve amplitude [SSNA/PMNA]) to diagnose patients with (DPN+) and without (DPN-) neuropathy. Corneal nerve fiber density (CNFD) and length (CNFL) in the central cornea, and inferior whorl length (IWL) were quantified.


Comparing control subjects to DPN- and DPN+ patients, there was a significant increase in NDS (0 vs. 2.6 ± 2.3 vs. 3.3 ± 2.7, P < 0.01), VPT (V; 5.4 ± 3.0 vs. 10.6 ± 10.3 vs. 17.7 ± 11.8, P < 0.01), WT (°C; 37.7 ± 3.5 vs. 39.1 ± 5.1 vs. 41.7 ± 4.7, P < 0.05), and a significant decrease in SSNCV (m/s; 50.2 ± 5.4 vs. 48.4 ± 5.0 vs. 39.5 ± 10.6, P < 0.05), CNFD (fibers/mm2; 37.8 ± 4.9 vs. 29.7 ± 7.7 vs. 27.1 ± 9.9, P < 0.01), CNFL (mm/mm2; 27.5 ± 3.6 vs. 24.4 ± 7.8 vs. 20.7 ± 7.1, P < 0.01), and IWL (mm/mm2; 35.1 ± 6.5 vs. 26.2 ± 10.5 vs. 23.6 ± 11.4, P < 0.05). For the diagnosis of DPN, CNFD, CNFL, and IWL achieved an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.75, 0.74, and 0.70, respectively, and a combination of IWL-CNFD achieved an AUC of 0.76.


The parameters of CNFD, CNFL, and IWL have a comparable ability to diagnose patients with DPN. However, IWL detects an abnormality even in patients without DPN. Combining IWL with CNFD may improve the diagnostic performance of CCM.

Impact and interest:

5 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
5 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 92222
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1167/iovs.14-15919
ISSN: 0146-0404
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc.
Deposited On: 22 Jan 2016 00:18
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2016 00:56

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page