Transforming Growth Factor-ß Found to Be Common Pathway in Drugs that Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy in Experiments

July 9, 2009

By Dominique Walton Brooks, MD, MBA

In the July 2009 issue of the journal Diabetes, researchers report that the transforming growth factor (TGF)-ß pathway is a target for possible drug therapies to prevent the destruction of capillaries in diabetic retinopathy.

The authors examined the gene expression profile of the retinal vessels from rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes then tested whether sorbinil and aspirin stopped some of the common molecular abnormalities caused by diabetes.  The retinal vessels in the diabetic rats showed differential expression of 20 genes in the TGF-ß pathway and the complete loop of the TGF- ß pathway was enhanced in the retinal vessels.  Sorbinil influenced the expression of genes related to both oxidative stress and to inflammation; both drugs were concordant in upregulating genes in the TGF- ß pathway.

While basic science research is miles away from being clinically useful, finding the basic puzzle pieces to the diabetic retinopathy opens new avenues for research for the treatment of DR before vision loss occurs. While many of the drugs to treat DR at early stages have not been very successful thus far, it doesn’t mean the research should stop – perhaps the facts that we are learning now can be combined with what we know and what failed in the past to come up with a treatment.

Read the abstract and full-text article here (login required) in Diabetes: A Journal of the American Diabetes Association.




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