The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, scientists have identified a molecular pathway that appears to play a vital role in diabetes associated blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy, damage to the retina in the eye as a result of inflammatory complications of diabetes mellitus, affects up to 80pct of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.
The new discovery might help researchers in developing novel drugs to combat diabetic retinotherapy.
The team has discovered that the Wnt signaling pathway plays a role in diabetic retinopathy.
During the study, lead researcher Dr. Jian-xing Ma examined retinal expression and activation of a Wnt signaling molecule in human patients with diabetic retinopathy as well as in mouse models.
They found high retinal expression and activation of Wnt signaling molecules in patients with diabetic retinopathy.
However, blocking Wnt signaling decreased the severity of diabetic retinopathy in mouse models. Wnt therefore provides a new target for diabetic retinopathy therapy.
Dr. Ma and colleagues suggest that "Wnt pathway activation is a novel pathogenic mechanism for [diabetic retinopathy] in both human patients and in animal models. Thus, the Wnt pathway represents a new target for pharmaceutical intervention of [diabetic retinopathy]."
The study appears in The American Journal of Pathology.