e know that hyperglycemia leads to diabetic retinopathy, but research is still revealing exactly how it develops. I was intrigued to read about this recent study describing how high blood glucose switches genes to proteins in the eye. These proteins play a role in the development of retinopathy.
Dr. Michael Dennis and his colleagues found that the protein 4E-BP1 is higher in lab animals with diabetes. He compared mice with diabetes, with and without the protein, and its affect on vision loss. He found that the mice with diabetes who did not have the 4EBP1 protein did not have any vision loss. When drugs were used to lower blood glucose levels, they also saw a reduction in 4E-BP1 in the retina, suggesting a strong link.
When blood glucose is high, it prevents 4E-BP1 from being broken down. Identifying the 4E-BP1 protein helps inspire research to develop new therapies for diabetic retinopathy.
Maybe someday there will be medications specifically targeted to slow or prevent the progression of blindness due to diabetes.
About the Author
Amy Campbell is a dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She currently works in public health in Lexington, Kentucky and has been working in diabetes for over seven years.