Neuropeptides and diabetic retinopathy



Professor Robert Gábriel PhD DSc, Department of Experimental Zoology and Neurobiology, University of Pécs, Ifjusag útja 6, H-7621 Pécs, Hungary.

Tel.: +36 72 503600 ext. 24116

Fax: +36 72 501517



Diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, develops in 75% of patients with type 1 and 50% of patients with type 2 diabetes, progressing to legal blindness in about 5%. In the recent years, considerable efforts have been put into finding treatments for this condition. It has been discovered that peptidergic mechanisms (neuropeptides and their analogues, activating a diverse array of signal transduction pathways through their multiple receptors) are potentially important for consideration in drug development strategies. A considerable amount of knowledge has been accumulated over the last three decades on human retinal neuropeptides and those elements in the pathomechanisms of diabetic retinopathy which might be related to peptidergic signal transduction. Here, human retinal neuropeptides and their receptors are reviewed, along with the theories relevant to the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy both in humans and in experimental models. By collating this information, the curative potential of certain neupeptides and their analogues/antagonists can also be discussed, along with the existing clinical treatments of diabetic retinopathy. The most promising peptidergic pathways for which treatment strategies may be developed at present are stimulation of the somatostatin-related pathway and the pituitary adenylyl cyclase-activating polypeptide-related pathway or inhibition of angiotensinergic mechanisms. These approaches may result in the inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor production and neuronal apoptosis; therefore, both the optical quality of the image and the processing capability of the neural circuit in the retina may be saved.