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World J Diabetes. 2015 Jun 10;6(5):726-33. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i5.726.

Functions of Müller cell-derived vascular endothelial growth factor in diabetic retinopathy.

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Juan-Juan Wang, Meili Zhu, Yun-Zheng Le, Department of Medicine Endocrinology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, United States.


Müller cells are macroglia and play many essential roles as supporting cells in the retina. To respond to pathological changes in diabetic retinopathy (DR), a major complication in the eye of diabetic patients, retinal Müller glia produce a high level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF or VEGF-A). As VEGF is expressed by multiple retinal cell-types and Müller glia comprise only a small portion of cells in the retina, it has been a great challenge to reveal the function of VEGF or other globally expressed proteins produced by Müller cells. With the development of conditional gene targeting tools, it is now possible to dissect the function of Müller cell-derived VEGF in vivo. By using conditional gene targeting approach, we demonstrate that Müller glia are a major source of retinal VEGF in diabetic mice and Müller cell-derived VEGF plays a significant role in the alteration of protein expression and peroxynitration, which leads to retinal inflammation, neovascularization, vascular leakage, and vascular lesion, key pathological changes in DR. Therefore, Müller glia are a potential cellular target for the treatment of DR, a leading cause of blindness.


Blood-retina barriers; Diabetic retinopathy; Inflammation; Müller glia; Protein modification; Vascular endothelial growth factor

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