2 June DRC Researchers Publish Major Breakthrough In Understanding How Diabetes Induces Eye Damage June 2, 2016 By The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center 0 In the retina, diabetes damages nerves before it damages blood vessels. Diabetes is a major risk factor for severe vision loss and blindness. A condition known as retinal diabetic neuropathy causes visual impairment through the degeneration of small nerves (neurons) in light-sensitive tissue called the retina, which lines the back of the eye. By combining evidence from human patients and mouse models, researchers from the Wynn Institute for Vision Research at the University of Iowa and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Center, Drs. Elliott Sohn and Michael Abramoff as well as collaborators from the University of Amsterdam, show that retinal diabetic neuropathy causes progressive damage to the nerve cells in the retina before any signs of damage to the blood vessels in the retina, in contrast to widely held beliefs. To assess retinal damage, the authors used an imaging technique called optical coherence tomography in addition to microscopy. In a group of 45 patients with type 1 diabetes, the neural layers in the retina became progressively thinner over a four-year period. Moreover, these neural layers were thinner in six donor eyes from deceased diabetic individuals compared with non-diabetic controls, even though the retinal capillary density was not different between the two groups. Similarly, two mouse models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes showed significant, progressive thinning of the two tissue layers, but no vascular abnormalities compared with non-diabetic control mice. Taken together, the results suggest that retinal diabetic neuropathy precedes the vascular changes caused by diabetes. The findings may lead to the development of much-needed treatment options for patients with retinal diabetic neuropathy and potentially for diabetic retinopathy. It may also mean that screening for nerve damage in the eye should become an important part of screening for diabetes induced retinal disease. These findings were recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Neuroretinal hypoxic signaling in a new preclinical mouse model for proliferative diabetic retinopathy In addition, a second research team from the University of Iowa conducted a study on diabetic retinopathy. Thus far, it is not been possible to create a mouse model to study proliferative diabetic retinopathy, one of the major ways in which diabetes leads to blindness. A research team from the University of Iowa (Drs. Mahajan and Alexander Bassuk) and Columbia (Dr. Stephen Tsang) has made a major advance in diabetic retinopathy. Based on human vitreous (eye fluid) samples, the team identified hypoxia inducible factor in the vitreous of patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Using mouse genetics, the research team then tricked photoreceptors in the retina into "overexpressing" this protein, mimicking cell specific hypoxia. The mouse eyes developed a striking phenotype identical to the human disease, with iris neovascularization (new blood vessel growth), cataract, vitreous hemorrhage, tractional retinal detachment, retinal neovascularization, and capillary loss. This new model will now allow investigations into therapeutic approaches to diabetic retinopathy. These examples of research breakthroughs by FOEDRC members will lead to more focused, effective, and improved preventative treatments that may ultimately prevent retinopathy and blindness in people with diabetes. Related Articles DRC Researchers Describe A Novel Effect of A Heart Failure Medication to Reduce Diabetes Nerve Damage Peripheral neuropathy affects more than 50% of patients with diabetes and about 30% of subjects with pre-diabetes. There is no completely effective treatment for this complication of diabetes. American Diabetes Association Supports FOEDRC Researchers DRC Director's Report - January 2018 Three researchers from the FOEDRC received new grants from the American Diabetes Association for groundbreaking research. The ability of our members to receive these competitive awards is truly remarkable and underscores the quality and rigor of the research that is being conducted in the FOEDRC. There are few institutions that received multiple awards in this current round of ADA funding. The awards to Drs. Ling Yang, Rajan Sah and Adam Rauckhorst are summarized below. Understanding How The Bacteria In Our Gut Affects Diabetes DRC Director's Report, May 2017 Diabetes significantly increases the risk for heart attacks and stroke. However treating blood sugar levels and even high cholesterol in the blood might not completely prevent these complications of diabetes. For this reason many researchers are looking for new connections between diabetes and vascular disease. FOEDRC researchers Dr. Ajit Vikram and Kaikobad Irani recently published an important discovery in the Journal Nature Communications that provides new understanding of why blood vessel inflammation and damage occurs in subjects at high risk for cardiovascular disease. How Diabetes Harms The Heart Study in mice involving FOEDRC researchers, reveals heart-damaging pathway triggered by insulin, identifies possible drug targets to prevent or treat heart failure. Diabetes is hard on the heart. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes, and risk for heart failure—where the heart can’t pump enough blood—is two to three times higher in men and up to five times higher in women with diabetes compared to people without diabetes. Progress In Preventing Eye Disease In Diabetes A research team lead by Mark A. Greiner, M.D., Assistant Professor, Cornea and External Diseases in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and member of the FOEDRC, at the University of Iowa is doing interesting work in understanding how diabetes affects the Cornea. A Vitamin For Diabetes And Its Complications? Prediabetes, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and diabetes that is complicated by nerve damage (neuropathy) are increasingly common conditions worldwide. These conditions are the result of progressive problems in metabolism. Prediabetes and T2D are characterized by increasing levels of blood sugar and circulating fats (lipids) in conjunction with insulin resistance. Many prediabetics and half of T2D patients develop progressive damage to their nerves that can be painful or lead to a loss of sensation. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to loss of limbs and is severely debilitating. We know that weight management and keeping active are among the most important components for preventing these conditions and arresting their progression. However, scientists are always on the lookout for healthy ingredients that can help people control their weight, improve their blood glucose control, and help their nerves stay healthy. Recent research at the University of Iowa, supported by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC), suggests that an over-the-counter vitamin supplement called nicotinamide riboside (NR) may do just that. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.