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Chin Med J (Engl). 1997 Sep;110(9):659-63.

Retinal capillary pericyte apoptosis in early human diabetic retinopathy.

Author information

1
Department of Ophthalmology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Beijing, China.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the nature of retinal capillary pericyte dropout in early human diabetic retinopathy.

METHODS:

In the present study, neural retinas of 12 postmortem eyes from 6 patients (3 diabetic and 3 nondiabetic) were first fixed in buffered formaldehyde and then digested with trypsin. The preparations of trypsin-digested retinal blood vessels were stained with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) technique and then with perdiodic acid-Schiff technique (PAS), and counter-stained with hematoxylin to evaluate DNA fragmentation of cell nuclei and diabetic changes of retinal capillaries.

RESULTS:

TUNEL-positive apoptotic pericytes were observed in retinal capillaries in all three diabetic patients in this study. The TUNEL-positive pericytes were presented as darker stained cells with PAS-hematoxylin staining. A few TUNEL-positive retinal capillary endothelial cells were discovered in both eyes of one of the three diabetic patients. Neither TUNEL-positive pericytes nor positive endothelial cells were found in the three nondiabetic patients. A variety of typical diabetic microvascular changes were noticeable with PAS-hematoxylin staining in trypsin-digested retinal preparations from diabetic patients. These changes included thickened capillary walls, microaneurysms, "ghost-cell"-appearance of pericytes, acellular segments of capillaries, and a decreased ratio of retinal capillary pericytes to endothelial cells. All of these changes are characteristics of diabetic retinal microangiopathy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Retinal capillary pericyte apoptosis is a specific form of cell death which occurs during the early development of diabetic retinopathy. The significant decrease in the ratio of pericytes to endothelial cells and the predominant TUNEL-positive pericytes over endothelial cells suggest that a greater impact of apoptosis-related mechanisms occurs in pericytes than in endothelial cells and, thereby, a greater loss of pericytes takes place in early diabetic retinopathy. Apoptosis, therefore, is an important mechanism of pericyte dropout in the early diabetic retinopathy.

PMID:
9642318
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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