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Eric P. Davidson, Lawrence J. Coppey, Mark A. Yorek; Early Loss of Innervation of Cornea Epithelium in Streptozotocin-Induced Type 1 Diabetic Rats: Improvement with Ilepatril Treatment. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(13):8067-8074. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.12-10826.
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Cornea confocal microscopy is emerging as a clinical tool to evaluate the development and progression of diabetic neuropathy. The purpose of these studies was to characterize the early changes in corneal sensitivity and innervation in a rat model of type 1 diabetes in relation to standard peripheral neuropathy endpoints and to assess the effect of Ilepatril, a vasopeptidase inhibitor which blocks angiotensin converting enzyme and neutral endopeptidase, on these endpoints.
Streptozotocin-diabetic rats 8 weeks duration were treated with or without Ilepatril for the last 6 weeks of the experimental period. Afterwards, standard diabetic neuropathy endpoints, subbasal corneal nerves and innervation of the epithelium, corneal sensitivity using a Cochet-Bonnet esthesiometer, and vascular reactivity of the posterior ciliary artery were examined.
Diabetes caused a decrease in nerve conduction velocity, thermal hypoalgesia, and a reduction in intraepidermal nerve fiber profiles. In the cornea there was a decrease in corneal nerve fibers innervating the epithelium and corneal sensitivity, but subbasal corneal nerve fibers was not changed. Vascular relaxation in response to acetylcholine was decreased in the posterior ciliary artery. These defects were partially to completely prevented by Ilepatril treatment.
These studies suggest that in type 1 diabetic rats decreased innervation of the cornea epithelium occurs early in diabetes and prior to a detectable decrease in subbasal corneal nerves and that these and other diabetic neuropathy-related defects can be partially to completely prevented by a vasopeptidase inhibitor.
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