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André A. Dosso, Peter M. Leuenberger, Elisabeth Rungger–Brändle; Remodeling of Retinal Capillaries in the Diabetic Hypertensive Rat. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1999;40(10):2405-2410.
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purpose. To document the effect of sustained systemic hypertension on the
integrity and ultrastructural morphology of retinal capillaries in
diabetic and nondiabetic rats.
methods. Normotensive (strain Wistar–Kyoto; WKY) and genetically hypertensive
(spontaneously hypertensive; SHR) rats were rendered diabetic by
intravenous streptozotocin injection. At 20 weeks of diabetes,
endothelial cells, pericytes, and extracellular matrix were evaluated
by ultrastructural morphometry. Serum albumin was localized by
results. The endothelial cell layer was markedly thinner in the diabetic
normotensive animals. The number of intercellular junctions was reduced
in both the nondiabetic and diabetic hypertensive group but less so in
the diabetic normotensive group. No significant endothelial cell loss
was noted in either of the experimental groups, whereas the number of
pericytes and the number of their cytoplasmic processes were reduced in
diabetic and hypertensive animals. Significant thickening of the
basement membrane and increased permeability to serum albumin were
observed in diabetic and hypertensive rats and were strongly enhanced
in the combined diseases.
conclusions. Endothelial thinning and shape changes from an elaborate to a simpler
form as well as rounding up of the pericytes and loosening of their
vascular sheaths indicate remodeling of the vascular wall during
chronic diabetes and sustained hypertension, before a characteristic
vasculopathy becomes manifest. The combination of diabetes and
hypertension enhances these features, as well as basement membrane
thickening and breakdown of the blood–retinal
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