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W G Robison, J L Jacot, J P Glover, M D Basso, T C Hohman; Diabetic-like retinopathy: early and late intervention therapies in galactose-fed rats.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1998;39(10):1933-1941.
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PURPOSE: To determine whether the diabetic-like thickening of retinal capillary basement membrane (RCBM) that develops in the galactose-fed rat model of diabetic ocular complications could be halted or ameliorated after 4 or 8 months of galactosemia by treatment with ARI-509, a potent new aldose reductase inhibitor (ARI), or by withdrawal of the galactose diet. METHODS: Weanling female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized into eight groups and fed laboratory chow plus 50% starch, control group (CON); 50% D-galactose, galactose-fed group (GAL); 50% D-galactose with ARI-509 at 25 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg body wt per day, high-dose prevention group (HDP) and low-dose prevention group (LDP), respectively; 50% D-galactose for 4 or 8 months and then intervention by addition of ARI-509 (25 mg/kg body wt per day), 4-month intervention group (4IN) and 8-month intervention group (8IN), respectively; or 50% D-galactose for 4 or 8 months and then intervention by withdrawing galactose and replacing it with the 50% starch diet, 4-month galactose withdrawal group (4GW) and 8-month galactose withdrawal group (8GW), respectively. After 4, 8, 16, and 24 months of the experimental diets, the levels of carbohydrates in tissues and the extent of RCBM thickening in capillaries of the outer plexiform layer were determined in all groups. RESULTS: Retinal polyol was reduced by 95% in all ARI-treated groups and by 100% in the 4GW and 8GW groups after withdrawal of the galactose. The mean RCBM thickness increased rapidly in GAL rats, becoming almost two times greater (189 +/- 9.4 nm) than in CON rats (103 +/- 3.4 nm) by 24 months. Treatment with ARI-509 in high and low doses (HDP, LDP) initiated with the introduction of the galactose diet significantly prevented RCBM thickening at all time points (P < 0.05). In contrast, intervention by withdrawing galactose from the diet or by adding the high dose of ARI-509 had no significant effect (P < 0.05) on RCBM thickening until the 24-month time point (4IN, 166 +/- 10.3 nm; 8IN, 161 +/- 8.2 nm; 4GW, 136 +/- 5.1 nm; 8GW, 163 +/- 9.6 nm). CONCLUSIONS: Both early and late interventions decreased RCBM thickening compared with that in untreated GAL rats. The decreased thickening, however, was not evident until 16 to 20 months after the intervention. Because RCBM thickening is one of the earliest changes in diabetic and galactosemic retinopathy, the findings suggest that RCBM thickening and possibly subsequent retinal lesions are caused by early biochemical alterations induced by the galactose diet that are not readily reversed. The delayed response to therapy is consistent with that observed in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial. The cumulative evidence indicates that intervention should begin as early after onset of diabetes as possible, and long follow-up periods should be used to evaluate efficacy.
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