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Retinylamine Benefits Early Diabetic Retinopathy in Mice*


Recent evidence suggests an important role for outer retinal cells in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy (DR). Here we investigated the effect of the visual cycle inhibitor retinylamine (Ret-NH2) on the development of early DR lesions. Wild-type (WT) C57BL/6J mice (male, 2 months old when diabetes was induced) were made diabetic with streptozotocin, and some were given Ret-NH2 once per week. Lecithin-retinol acyltransferase (LRAT)-deficient mice and P23H mutant mice were similarly studied. Mice were euthanized after 2 (WT and Lrat(-/-)) and 8 months (WT) of study to assess vascular histopathology, accumulation of albumin, visual function, and biochemical and physiological abnormalities in the retina. Non-retinal effects of Ret-NH2 were examined in leukocytes treated in vivo. Superoxide generation and expression of inflammatory proteins were significantly increased in retinas of mice diabetic for 2 or 8 months, and the number of degenerate retinal capillaries and accumulation of albumin in neural retina were significantly increased in mice diabetic for 8 months compared with nondiabetic controls. Administration of Ret-NH2 once per week inhibited capillary degeneration and accumulation of albumin in the neural retina, significantly reducing diabetes-induced retinal superoxide and expression of inflammatory proteins. Superoxide generation also was suppressed in Lrat(-/-) diabetic mice. Leukocytes isolated from diabetic mice treated with Ret-NH2 caused significantly less cytotoxicity to retinal endothelial cells ex vivo than did leukocytes from control diabetics. Administration of Ret-NH2 once per week significantly inhibited the pathogenesis of lesions characteristic of early DR in diabetic mice. The visual cycle constitutes a novel target for inhibition of DR.

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