Prof. Arnon Blum


To test the hypothesis that microRNAs may play a role in diabetic retinopathy, we measured the levels of different markers [microRNAs, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), nitric oxide (NO), and total antioxidant capacity (TAO)] in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and microvascular complications. Sixty-nine patients were recruited: 22 healthy subjects, ten T2DM patients without retinopathy, 22 with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, and 15 with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Serum levels of NO, VEGF, TAO and 16 candidate microRNAs were measured. Additionally, the mRNA levels of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), induced NOS (iNOS), C reactive protein (CRP), VEGF, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), PON2, p22, and SOD2 were measured in human vascular endothelial cells cultured in the presence of pooled sera from the subject groups. Plasma miR-423 levels showed a significant ~ twofold decrease in patients with PDR compared to controls. P lasma NO levels were significantly higher in retinopathy, VEGF levels were significantly lower, and TAO was significantly decreased. eNOS mRNA levels were lower in the cells of T2DM patients without retinopathy, but higher in PDR. PON2, p22, and SOD2 mRNA levels were all significantly lower in PDR. CRP, TNFα, iNOS, and VEGF mRNA levels showed no significant association with disease status. Lowered miR-423 levels in diabetic patients showed a correlation with VEGF and an inverse correlation between NO and eNOS expression. Our findings suggest a cross talk between miR-423 and VEGF signaling, affecting eNOS function. miR-423 may be involved in the regulation of diabetic vascular retinal proliferation.

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