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Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Jan;165(1):4-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01411.x.

Modulation of diabetic retinopathy pathophysiology by natural medicines through PPAR-γ-related pharmacology.

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Herbal Medicines Research and Education Centre, Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the most common microvascular complications of diabetes and remains a major cause of preventable blindness among adults at working age. DR involves an abnormal pathology of major retinal cells, including retinal pigment epithelium, microaneurysms, inter-retinal oedema, haemorrhage, exudates (hard exudates) and intraocular neovascularization. The biochemical mechanisms associated with hyperglycaemic-induced DR are through multifactorial processes. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of DR by inhibiting diabetes-induced retinal leukostasis and leakage. Despite DR causing eventual blindness, only a few visual or ophthalmic symptoms are observed until visual loss develops. Therefore, early medical interventions and prevention are the current management strategies. Laser photocoagulation therapy is the most common treatment. However, this therapy may cause retinal damage and scarring. Herbal and traditional natural medicines may provide an alternative to prevent or delay the progression of DR. This review provides an analysis of the therapeutic potential of herbal and traditional natural medicines or their active components for the slowdown of progression of DR and their possible mechanism through the PPAR-γ pathway.

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