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Interphotoreceptor Retinol-Binding Protein Ameliorates Diabetes-induced Retinal Dysfunction and Neurodegeneration through Rhodopsin

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posted on 18.12.2020, 00:41 by Jianglei Chen, Yan Shao, Temmy Sasore, Gennadiy Moiseyev, Kelu Zhou, Xiang Ma, Yanhong Du, Jian-xing Ma
Diabetic patients often experience visual defects before any retinal pathologies are detected. The molecular mechanism for the visual defects in early diabetes has not been elucidated. Our previous study reported that in early diabetic retinopathy (DR), rhodopsin levels were reduced due to impaired 11-cis-retinal regeneration. Interphotoreceptor retinol-binding protein (IRBP) is a visual cycle protein and important for 11-cis-retinal generation. IRBP levels are decreased in the vitreous and retina of DR patients and animal models. To determine the role of IRBP downregulation in the visual defects in early DR, we induced diabetes in transgenic mice overexpressing IRBP in the retina. IRBP overexpression prevented diabetes-induced decline of retinal function. Furthermore, IRBP overexpression also prevented decreases of rhodopsin levels and 11-cis-retinal generation in diabetic mice. Diabetic IRBP transgenic mice also showed ameliorated retinal oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, and retinal degeneration, compared to diabetic WT mice. These findings suggest that diabetes-induced IRBP downregulation impairs the regeneration of 11-cis-retinal and rhodopsin, leading to retinal dysfunction in early DR. Furthermore, increased 11-cis-retinal-free opsin constitutively activates the phototransduction pathway, leading to increased oxidative stress and retinal neurodegeneration. Therefore, restored IRBP expression in the diabetic retina may confer a protective effect against retinal degeneration in DR.


National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants (EY018659, EY019309, EY012231, EY028949, GM122744), a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) grant (SRA-2019-711-S-B), and an Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) grant (HR16-041).