Regulation of retinal hemodynamics in diabetic rats by increased expression and action of endothelin-1

C Takagi, S E Bursell, Y W Lin, H Takagi, E Duh, Z Jiang, A C Clermont, G L King
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 1996, 37 (12): 2504-18

PURPOSE: To investigate the role of endogenous endothelin-1 (ET-1) expression and its interaction with the ETA receptor in the physiologic regulation of vascular tone as well as in the development of abnormal retinal hemodynamics in diabetes.

METHODS: Retinal blood flow, using digitized video fluorescein angiography recordings, was quantitated after intravitreous injections of ET-1; BQ-123, an ETA receptor antagonist; and phosporamindon, an endothelin converting enzyme inhibitor in the eyes of diabetic and nondiabetic rats. A total of 154 rats were used for these experiments. Message levels of preproendothelin-1 (preproET-1) were measured from the retina of diabetic and nondiabetic rats using competitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques.

RESULTS: Retinal blood flow was reduced (33%, P < 0.001) in diabetic rats compared to nondiabetic rats. BQ-123, an ETA receptor antagonist, but not saralasin, an angiotensin receptor antagonist, increased retinal blood flow in a dose-dependent manner in diabetic (EC50 of 8 x 10(-7) M) and in nondiabetic rats (EC50 of 8 x 10(-8) M). Besides being resistant to BQ-123, the maximal response in diabetic animals occurred 20 minutes later than in nondiabetic animals. Decreasing ET-1 levels by inhibiting endothelin-converting enzyme with phosphoramidon normalized retinal blood flow in diabetic rats. In nondiabetic rats, the intravitreous injection of exogenous ET-1 (10(-8) M) resulted in retinal blood flow decreases comparable to those measured in diabetic animals, and the subsequent injection of 10(-4) M BQ-123 produced retinal blood flow changes comparable to those measured in BQ-123 injected diabetic rats. Comparison of preproET-1 messenger RNA expression in the retina, brain and lung of control and diabetic rats using quantitative PCR and Northern blot analysis showed 2.0- and 1.7-fold increases in the retina and the brain, respectively, without changes in the lung.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that ET-1 is involved in the regulation of retinal blood flow in normal physiologic outcome, and an increase in the endogenous expression of ET-1 contributes to the reduction of retinal blood flow reported in the early stages of diabetes mellitus.

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