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W G Robison, M Nagata, N Laver, T C Hohman, J H Kinoshita; Diabetic-like retinopathy in rats prevented with an aldose reductase inhibitor.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1989;30(11):2285-2292. doi: https://doi.org/.
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The earliest histopathologic signs of diabetic retinopathy include selective loss of intramural pericytes and thickening of capillary basement membranes. Previous evidence from animal models indicated that aldose reductase inhibitors could prevent these capillary wall lesions, but only recently have aldose reductase inhibitors been tested for prevention of the subsequent retinal complications of diabetes, such as microaneurysms. In the present study, Sprague-Dawley rats were fed diets containing 50% galactose with or without an aldose reductase inhibitor (tolrestat). After 28 months of galactose feeding, the retinal capillaries in whole mounts exhibited a marked increase in periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining, extensive pericyte loss, endothelial cell proliferation, acellularity, diffuse dilation, occluded lumens, microaneurysms, and complex microvascular abnormalities including gross dilation and formation of multiple shunt networks. The PAS hyperchromaticity of basement membrane material and pericyte loss occurred throughout the retinal vasculature, while while the microaneurysms and complex lesions were limited to the capillaries of the central and paracentral retina. The changes were associated with both the arterial and venous portions of the capillary plexus. Treatment with orally administered tolrestat prevented essentially all of the vessel abnormalities. Thus, long-term galactose feeding of rats induced microvascular lesions simulating those occurring in background diabetic retinopathy in humans, and these lesions were prevented by treatment with an aldose reductase inhibitor.
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