BACKGROUND: Women with type 2 diabetes are disproportionally affected by macrovascular complications; we here investigated whether this is also the case for microvascular complications and retinal microvascular measures.

METHODS: In a population-based cohort study of individuals aged 40-75 years (n = 3410; 49% women, 29% type 2 diabetes (oversampled by design)), we estimated sex-specific associations, and differences therein, of (pre)diabetes (reference: normal glucose metabolism), and of continuous measures of glycemia with microvascular complications and retinal measures (nephropathy, sensory neuropathy, and retinal arteriolar and venular diameters and dilatation). Sex differences were analyzed using regression models with interaction terms (i.e. sex-by- (pre)diabetes and sex-by-glycemia) and were adjusted for potential confounders.

RESULTS: Men with type 2 diabetes (but not those with prediabetes) compared to men with normal glucose metabolism, (and men with higher levels of glycemia), had significantly higher prevalences of nephropathy (odds ratio: 1.58 95% CI (1.01;2.46)) and sensory neuropathy (odds ratio: 2.46 (1.67;3.63)), larger retinal arteriolar diameters (difference: 4.29 µm (1.22;7.36)) and less retinal arteriolar dilatation (difference: - 0.74% (- 1.22; - 0.25)). In women, these associations were numerically in the same direction, but generally not statistically significant (odds ratios: 1.71 (0.90;3.25) and 1.22 (0.75;1.98); differences: 0.29 µm (- 3.50;4.07) and: - 0.52% (- 1.11;0.08), respectively). Interaction analyses revealed no consistent pattern of sex differences in the associations of either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes or glycemia with microvascular complications or retinal measures. The prevalence of advanced-stage complications was too low for evaluation.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that women with type 2 diabetes are not disproportionately affected by early microvascular complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Number of pages15
JournalCardiovascular Diabetology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021


  • DIET
  • Epidemiology
  • Microvascular complications
  • Nephropathy
  • Neuropathy
  • Retinopathy
  • Sex
  • Sex difference
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Women


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