Findings could lead to new treatments that can be used at an early stage of the disease, long before any vision loss occurs
New research could form the basis for the development of life-changing therapies that limit the impact of diabetic eye disease, a disease that could potentially affect some 1.7 million Australians with type 1 and type 2 diabetes .
Research from the University of Melbourne reveals how retinal immune cells change during diabetes, which may lead to new treatments that can be used at an early stage of the disease, long before any vision loss occurs.
The research team discovered that a specific type of immune cell, called microglia, comes into contact with blood vessels and neurons in the retina and is able to alter blood flow to meet the neurons’ needs.
They identified the chemical signal by which immune cells communicate with blood vessels and demonstrated that immune cell regulation of blood vessels is abnormal in diabetes, a disease known to affect the blood vessels of the eye. The studies used preclinical animal models and a range of imaging methods that allowed researchers to see retinal immune cells in a live eye.
It is hoped that the results will help develop new therapies to reduce the effects of vascular conditions in the retina and brain. These conditions include diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular conditions such as stroke or retinal vascular occlusion.