[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 637
Citations 0
Brief Report
August 15, 2019

Association of Genetics and B Vitamin Status With the Magnitude of Optic Disc Edema During 30-Day Strict Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
  • 2KBR, Houston, Texas
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology and Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 4Human Health and Performance Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
  • 5Interval Bio, Mountain View, California
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(10):1195-1200. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.3124
Key Points

Question  Is there an association between 1-carbon metabolic pathway polymorphisms and the development of optic disc edema during head-down tilt bed rest with carbon dioxide, 0.5%, exposure?

Findings  In this cohort study, the presence of more 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase reductase (MTRR) 66G and serine hydroxymethyltransferase 1 (SHMT1) 1420C alleles was associated with a greater increase in total retinal thickness and baseline retinal nerve fiber layer thickness during 30 days of head-down tilt bed rest with carbon dioxide, 0.5%, exposure. In addition, B vitamin status was a contributing factor.

Meaning  This study suggests that genetic variants associated with folate status and function are associated with development of optic disc edema during head-down tilt bed rest with carbon dioxide exposure.

Abstract

Importance  Optic disc edema among astronauts after long-duration spaceflight is associated with 1-carbon pathway single-nucleotide polymorphisms and B vitamin status. A recent strict 6° head-down tilt bed rest (HDTBR) study documented development of optic disc edema and increased total retinal thickness in participants exposed to carbon dioxide, 0.5%, for 30 days, but genetic risk factors have not been explored in the cohort.

Objective  To examine whether peripapillary retinal thickness measures obtained from optical coherence tomography images during HDTBR and carbon dioxide, 0.5%, exposure are associated with B vitamin status and single-nucleotide polymorphisms involved in folate-dependent and vitamin B12–dependent 1-carbon metabolism pathways.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This study was conducted with a cohort of healthy volunteers at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne, Germany. Data collection occurred from October 2017 to November 2017. After a 14-day ambulatory phase without carbon dioxide, participants maintained strict HDTBR with carbon dioxide, 0.5%, for 30 days, followed by a 13-day ambulatory phase without carbon dioxide.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Blood samples were collected before HDTBR to assess vitamin levels and single-nucleotide polymorphism status. Optical coherence tomographic images were collected before HDTBR; at days 1, 15, and 30 of the resting period; and 6 and 13 days after the period ended. Total retinal thickness was measured from a radial-24 B-scan centered over the optic disc, and global retinal nerve fiber layer thickness was measured from a circle scan. The changes in total retinal thickness and retinal nerve fiber layer thickness were evaluated against the number of risk alleles (defined as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase reductase [MTRR] 66 G and serine hydroxymethyltransferase 1 [SHMT1] 1420C alleles), along with folate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) status.

Results  Eleven heathy volunteers (6 men and 5 women) had a mean (SD) age of 33.4 (8.0) years and a mean (SD) body mass index of 23.4 (2.2). After statistical adjustment for B vitamin status, total retinal thickness at the end of HDTBR in participants with 3 or 4 risk alleles was 40 um (SE, 19 μm) greater than in participants with 0 to 2 risk alleles. In addition, the baseline retinal nerve fiber layer thickness was 14 um (SE, 2 μm) greater in those with 3 or 4 risk alleles compared with those with 0 to 2 risk alleles.

Conclusions and Relevance  The magnitude of optic disc edema in individuals experiencing HDTBR and exposed to a chronic headward fluid shift in a mild hypercapnic environment was higher in participants with more MTRR 66 G and SHMT1 1420C alleles, even when this finding was statistically adjusted for B vitamin status. These findings may help explain the variability in magnitude of optic disc edema observed during bed rest and spaceflight and thereby improve efforts to counteract this phenomenon.

×