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Mol Vis. 2009;15:861-9. Epub 2009 Apr 27.

Overexpression of nuclear transport factor 2 may protect against diabetic retinopathy.

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Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology of the Ministry of Education and Zhong-Shan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yet-Sun University, Guangzhou City, People's Republic of China.



We performed human, animal, and in vitro studies to examine the potential role of nuclear transport factor 2 (NTF2) in conferring resistance to diabetic retinopathy (DR).


Blood NTF2 levels were assessed in two groups of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Group P patients had a history of proliferative DR (PDR), while group N patients did not. The retinal vasculature was examined in diabetic rats three months after they received an intravitreal injection of a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vector overexpressing NTF2 (rAAV2-NTF2). Control rats were treated with rAAV2 only. Rat retinal capillary endothelial cells (RRCECs) were infected with rAAV2-NTF2, or with a vector expressing siRNA targeted against NTF2, to assess the effects of overexpression and inhibition of NTF2 on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression (mRNA and protein).


There was a strong trend for patients with DR to have lower blood NTF2 levels compared to those who did not have DR (0.10+/-0.01 versus 0.20+/-0.08, p=0.079). There was significantly less retinal blood vessel leakage in diabetic rats infected with rAAV2-NTF2 compared to controls (16.5+/-2.9 versus 24.7+/-7.3, p=0.039). These rats exhibited normal retinal vasculature and blood-retinal barrier function. VEGF expression was inhibited by NTF2 overexpression and stimulated by NTF2 inhibition, (protein [0.41+/-0.05 versus 0.23+/-0.06] and mRNA [0.37+/-0.04 versus 0.23+/-0.06] p<0.01 for all).


These finding suggest that NTF2 is a potential mediator of retinal vasculature integrity. NTF2 may act by altering VEGF expression, thereby influencing the development of DR in patients with diabetes mellitus.

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