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Diabet Med. 1995 Nov;12(11):997-1001.

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism, and diabetic retinopathy in subjects with IDDM and NIDDM.

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Division of Medicine, General Infirmary at Leeds, UK.


Angiotensin 1 converting enzyme (ACE) catalyses the step which generates angiotensin II, and also inactivates bradykinin, peptides which play a key role in modulating vascular tone. Plasma ACE levels are under genetic control and up to 50% of the variation is due to an insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism of ACE gene with highest levels found in DD homozygotes. Studies have shown an association of diabetic nephropathy and ischaemic heart disease with angiotensin converting enzyme gene polymorphism in subjects with diabetes. We examined the association between diabetic retinopathy and ACE gene insertion/deletion polymorphism in 363 subjects with NIDDM (aged 68.3 +/- 10.7 years; 201 male, 162 female), 186 subjects with IDDM (aged 42.4 +/- 15.0 years; 100 male, 86 female) and 98 controls. These subjects were characterized for ACE I/D polymorphism employing standard primers. Diabetic retinopathy was diagnosed by ophthalmoscopy through dilated pupils by an ophthalmologist and classified as non-proliferative or proliferative retinopathy. As expected, diabetic retinopathy was strongly associated with duration of diabetes (p < 0.001) in both IDDM and NIDDM. Any retinopathy was present in 51% subjects with IDDM and 49% of subjects with NIDDM, while 22% of IDDM subjects and 5% of subjects with NIDDM had proliferative retinopathy. The frequency of I allele was 0.477 vs 0.482 vs 0.510 and D allele was 0.523 vs 0.518 vs 0.490, among subjects with IDDM, NIDDM and controls, respectively. The frequency of ACE I/D genotype was similar in subjects with IDDM, NIDDM, and controls (chi 2 = 0.46, df = 4, p = ns). Presence or absence of retinopathy was not significantly associated with ACE genotype in subjects with IDDM (chi 2 = 3.42, df = 2, p = ns) or NIDDM (chi 2 = 0.51, df = 2, p = ns). Among subjects with retinopathy, there was no significant association between ACE genotype and type of retinopathy. Controlled for duration of diabetes, the frequency of I/D genotype was not significantly different in 271 subjects with retinopathy (IDDM and NIDDM combined) when compared with 86 subjects without retinopathy at 15 years or more after diagnosis of diabetes (chi 2 = 1.29, df = 2, p = ns). These findings indicate that I/D polymorphism of ACE gene is not a useful marker and is unlikely to play a major role in determining genetic susceptibility to diabetic retinopathy or the severity of diabetic retinopathy.

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