Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a major complication of diabetes and a growing problem as the systemic disease becomes more prevalent. DR develops insidiously from an asymptomatic form through to vascular damage that leads to oedema and breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB). The Akimba mouse is a cross between the Ins2Akita the Akita diabetes model and the trVEGF029 (Kimba) mouse in which photoreceptors transiently express VEGF. The resultant Akimba has a retinal microenvironment similar to advanced DR in humans. Fluoroscein leakage showing BRB damage was seen in the Kimba and Akimba mice but not Akita or wild-type mice. BRB damage was associated with angiogenesis. Moreover, mRNA for plasmalemma vesicle associated protein (PVLAP) a molecule only found in damaged BRB, was raised in Kimba and Akimba mice. However, pericyte drop-out, and decreased endothelial junction protein expression was seen only in Akimba mice These data suggest that the recently-developed Akimba mice which combines hyperglycaemia and high intraocular VEGF expression may be a good model for human DR.

Molecular analysis of blood-retinal barrier loss in the Akimba mouse, a model of advanced diabetic retinopathy.
Wisniewska-Kruk J, Klaassen I, Vogels IM, et al.
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Graham Wallace

Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre, Birmingham, UK.

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