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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 11  |  Page : 1858-1869

MicroRNAs as biomarkers of diabetic retinopathy and disease progression

1 Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology, University of California, Merced, Merced, California, USA; Department of Medicine, St. Georges University School of Medicine, Grenada; Department of Physics and Engineering, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA
2 Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Correspondence Address:
Philip V Peplow
Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin
New Zealand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.259602

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Diabetes mellitus, together with its complications, has been increasing in prevalence worldwide. Its complications include cardiovascular disease (e.g., myocardial infarction, stroke), neuropathy, nephropathy, and eye complications (e.g., glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathy, and macular edema). In patients with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of visual impairment or blindness. It is characterized by progressive changes in the retinal microvasculature. The progression from nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy to a more advanced stage of moderate to severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs very quickly after diagnosis of mild nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. The etiology of diabetic retinopathy is unclear, and present treatments have limited effectiveness. Currently diabetic retinopathy can only be diagnosed by a trained specialist, which reduces the population that can be examined. A screening biomarker of diabetic retinopathy with high sensitivity and specificity would aid considerably in identifying those individuals in need of clinical assessment and treatment. The majority of the studies reviewed identified specific microRNAs in blood serum/plasma able to distinguish diabetic patients with retinopathy from those without retinopathy and for the progresion of the disease from nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy to proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In addition, certain microRNAs in vitreous humor were dysregulated in proliferative diabetic retinopathy compared to controls. A very high percentage of patients with diabetic retinopathy develop Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, identifying diabetic retinopathy by measurement of suitable biomarkers would also enable better screening and treatment of those individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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