PURPOSE. Dysfunction of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic vascular complications. This study was undertaken to determine the role of eNOS in the development of diabetic retinopathy (DR), by investigating the functional consequences of its deficiency in the diabetic state. METHODS. Diabetes was induced in eNOS-knockout (eNOS-/-) and C57B/6 mice by streptozotocin (STZ) injection. Retinal vasculature was evaluated by albumin extravasation, to quantitatively measure vascular permeability, and by trypsin-digested retinal vascular preparations, to quantify acellular capillaries. Gliosis was evaluated by immunofluorescent techniques. Retinal capillary basement membrane thickness was assessed by transmission electron microscopy. Total retinal nitric oxide level was assessed by measuring nitrate/nitrite using a fluorometricbased assay, iNOS expression was examined by real-time PCR. RESULTS. Diabetic eNOS-/- mice exhibit more severe retinal vascular permeability than age-matched diabetic C57BL/6 mice, detectable as early as 3 weeks after diabetes induction. Diabetic eNOS-/- mice also show earlier onset and an increased number of acellular capillaries, sustained gliosis, and increased capillary basement membrane thickness. Total nitric oxide (NO) level was also increased, concomitant with elevated iNOS expression in diabetic eNOS-/- retina. CONCLUSIONS. Diabetic eNOS-/- mice exhibit A significantly wider range of advanced retinal vascular complications than the age-matched diabetic C57BL/6 mice, supporting the notion that eNOS-derived NO plays an essential role in retinal vascular function. This mouse model also faithfully replicates many of the hallmarks of vascular changes associated with human retinopathy, thus providing a unique model to aid in understanding the pathologic mechanisms of and to develop effective therapeutic strategies for diabetic retinopathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience