Diabetic retinopathy is a common and potentially devastating microvascular complication in diabetes and is a leading cause of acquired blindness among the people of occupational age. However, current therapeutic options for the treatment of sight-threatening proliferative diabetic retinopathy such as photocoagulation and vitrectomy are limited by considerable side effects and far from satisfactory. Therefore, to develop novel therapeutic strategies that specifically target diabetic retinopathy is actually desired for most of the patients with diabetes. Chronic hyperglycemia is a major initiator of diabetic retinopathy. However, recent clinical study has substantiated the concept of ‘hyperglycemic memory’ in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. Indeed, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial-Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT-EDIC) Research, has revealed that the reduction in the risk of progressive retinopathy resulting from intensive therapy in patients with type 1 diabetes persisted for at least several years after the DCCT trial, despite increasing hyperglycemia. These findings suggest a long-term beneficial influence of early metabolic control on clinical outcomes in type 1 diabetic patients. Among various biochemical pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy, the process of formation and accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and their mode of action are most compatible with the theory ‘hyperglycemic memory’. Further, there is a growing body of evidence that AGEs-RAGE (receptor for AGEs) interaction- mediated oxidative stress generation plays an important role in diabetic retinopathy. This article summarizes the role of AGEs and oxidative stress in the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy and the therapeutic interventions that could prevent this devastating disorder. We also discuss here the pathological crosstalk between the AGEs-RAGE and the renin-angiotensin system in diabetic retinopathy and a potential clinical utility of telmisartan, an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ-modulating activity.
Keywords: diabetic retinopathy, AGEs, oxidative stress, RAGE, the renin-angiotensin system, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ
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