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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Nov 1;53(12):7449-57. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10660.

The UCP1 -3826A/G polymorphism is associated with diabetic retinopathy and increased UCP1 and MnSOD2 gene expression in human retina.

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Endocrinology Division, Hospital de ClĂ­nicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.



Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) reduces mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS overproduction is related to diabetic retinopathy (DR), a chronic complication of diabetes mellitus (DM). Therefore, deleterious polymorphisms in the UCP1 gene are candidate risk factors for DR. We investigated the relationships between the UCP1 -3826A/G polymorphism and risk of DR and UCP1 gene expression in human retina. Considering that superoxide dismutase-2 (MnSOD2) enzyme is the first line of defense against oxidative stress in mitochondria, we also analyzed MnSOD2 gene expression in retinal samples according to different UCP1 -3826A/G genotypes.


In a case-control study, frequencies of -3826A/G polymorphisms were analyzed in 257 type 1 DM patients (154 cases with DR and 103 controls without DR). In a cross-sectional study comprising cadaveric cornea donors, UCP1 and MnSOD2 gene expressions were evaluated in 107 retinal samples differentiated according to different -3826A/G genotypes.


In the type 1 DM group, multivariate analysis confirmed that the G/G genotype was an independent risk factor for DR (OR = 3.503; P = 0.043). In cornea donors, G allele carriers had higher UCP1 cDNA and protein concentrations than A/A carriers (P = 0.034 and P = 0.039, respectively). Interestingly, G allele carriers exhibited increased MnSOD2 expression (P = 0.001).


This study suggests that the -3826A/G polymorphism is associated with DR in type 1 DM patients. This is the first report demonstrating UCP1 gene expression in human retinas and indicates that the -3826A/G polymorphism influences its expression. In addition, the -3826G allele was associated with increased MnSOD2 expression; thus, suggesting that this allele could be a marker of oxidative stress.

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