Author(s): Toh H, Smolentsev A, Bozadjian RV, Keeley PW, Lockwood MD, Sadjadi R, Clegg DO, Blodi BA, Coffey PJ, Reese BE, Thomson JA. Vascular changes in diabetic retinopathy-a longitudinal study in the Nile rat. Lab Invest. 2019 Oct;99(10):1547-1560. doi: 10.1038/s41374-019-0264-3. Epub 2019 May 17. PMID 31101854
Journal: Laboratory Investigation; A Journal Of Technical Methods And Pathology, Volume 99, Issue 10, Oct 2019
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common microvascular complication of diabetes and is a major cause of blindness, but an understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease has been hampered by a lack of accurate animal models. Here, we explore the dynamics of retinal cellular changes in the Nile rat (Arvicanthis niloticus), a carbohydrate-sensitive model for type 2 diabetes. The early retinal changes in diabetic Nile rats included increased acellular capillaries and loss of pericytes that correlated linearly with the duration of diabetes. These vascular changes occurred in the presence of microglial infiltration but in the absence of retinal ganglion cell loss. After a prolonged duration of diabetes, the Nile rat also exhibits a spectrum of retinal lesions commonly seen in the human condition including vascular leakage, capillary non-perfusion, and neovascularization. Our longitudinal study documents a range and progression of retinal lesions in the diabetic Nile rat remarkably similar to those observed in human diabetic retinopathy, and suggests that this model will be valuable in identifying new therapeutic strategies.