Sympathetic system hyperactivity and depression are related to cardiac remodelling in Black men. We investigated whether sympathetic system hyperactivity and depressive symptoms are related to retinal vascular dysregulation. A total of 76 Black and 83 White men (23–68 years of age) from the SABPA study were included. Depressive symptoms, 24h pulse pressure (PP), fasting blood and 24-hour urinary catecholamine data were obtained. Retinal vascular calibre was quantified from digital photographs using standardized protocols. Black men demonstrated increased (p < 0.05) hyperpulsatile pressure (PP > 50 mmHg), hypertension (78.9 % vs 48.4%) and depression (34.2% vs. 13.3%) prevalence compared to White men. Despite lower epinephrine levels, epinephrine was associated with arteriolar narrowing and venular widening in the Black men [Adj R2 −0.37 (95% CI: −0.66, −0.09), p=0.013; Adj R2 0.35 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.57), p=0.003]. This might suggest ß-adrenergic hyporesponsivity to epinephrine, which was accompanied by hyperpulsatile blood pressure in the Black group. In the White group, depressive symptoms and norepinephrine were associated with retinal arteriolar narrowing. A profile of ß-adrenergic hyporesponsivity, indicative of a chronically challenged sympathetic system, was associated with retinal vascular remodelling in Black men. ß-adrenergic hyporesponsivity as a result of chronic stress emphasized central control of the brain on the circulatory system irrespective of the vascular bed.
Part of the book: Microcirculation Revisited