Aims To investigate the relationship of aqueous macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) levels with the clinical stage of diabetic retinopathy.
Methods We assayed MIF and MCP-1 levels in aqueous humour samples obtained from 40 diabetic patients (49 eyes) and 24 non-diabetic patients (31 eyes) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. According to the clinical stage of diabetic retinopathy, the diabetic patients were classified into non-diabetic retinopathy (11 eyes), non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (14 eyes) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (24 eyes).
Results The aqueous levels of MIF (mean ± sd) were 6.34 ± 4.53 ng/ml in proliferative diabetic retinopathy, 3.22 ± 1.71 ng/ml in non proliferative diabetic retinopathy, 1.25 ± 0.96 ng/ml in non-diabetic retinopathy and 1.07 ± 0.94 ng/ml in non-diabetic patients. Significant differences were found among these four groups (P < 0.0001). Aqueous MCP-1 levels were 1668.6 ± 1442.3 pg/ml in proliferative diabetic retinopathy, 1528.6 ± 1994.6 pg/ml in non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, 690.2 ± 402.1 pg/ml in non-diabetic retinopathy and 622.7 ± 245.3 pg/ml in non-diabetic patients. Significant differences were also found among these four groups (P < 0.0001). After correcting for total aqueous protein, the ratios of MIF and MCP-1 to total protein remained significantly correlated with the clinical stage of diabetic retinopathy (P < 0.0001, P = 0.0004, respectively). The ratios of MIF to total protein significantly correlated with the ratios of MCP-1 to total protein in diabetic patients (r = 0.680, P < 0.0001).
Conclusions Aqueous MIF levels significantly correlated with aqueous MCP-1 levels and the clinical stage of diabetic retinopathy. The results suggest that MIF has a co-operative role with MCP-1 in the progression of diabetic retinopathy.