BMC ophthalmology

Retinal upregulation of inflammatory and proangiogenic markers in a model of neonatal diabetic rats fed on a high-fat-diet.

PMID 23587252


The contemporary peak of diabetes seems to be related to obesity, sedentary lifestyle and diet. Diabetic retinopathy is the most leading cause of blindness in adulthood in industrialized countries. Our purpose was to evaluate the effect of a high-fat-diet (HFD) on the retina of diabetic rats. Two groups of Wistar rats were injected with streptozotocin (STZ) two days after birth using 45 and 90 mg/kg, respectively. At 8 weeks the group on lower doses started to be fed on a HFD. Animals were sacrificed at 37 weeks of diabetes. A control group was made up of non-diabetic rats. Retinal flat mounts were examined using the trypsin digestion technique. Pericytes counts were compared between diabetic and control rats. Cross retinal sections were analyzed by histological techniques and immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescent technique. Primary antibodies against inflammatory and proangiogenic mediators such as RAGE, GFAP, 5-LO, VEGF and TNF-α were used for immunohistochemistry and Western Blot (WB) analyses. In the two diabetic groups we observed GFAP-positive cells with a morphology and spatial organization similar to those seen in Müller cells. Both diabetic groups had a significantly lower number of pericytes than non-diabetic animals.Increased retinal immunoreactivity of GFAP, RAGE, TNF-α, VEGF and 5-LO was seen in diabetic animals fed on HFD compared to the other groups of animals. WB analysis revealed a higher expression of 5-LO, VEGF, TNF-α and RAGE in the retina of diabetic rats on HFD than in controls and diabetics fed on a normal diet. The percentage of RAGE-stained ganglion cells and ganglion cells was found to be significantly lower in animals on a HFD than in the other animals. Diabetic animals fed on a HFD showed an increased upregulation of inflammatory and proangiogenic markers. This animal model may be useful to study mechanisms of diabetic retinopathy and therapeutic targets.