Attenuating Diabetic Vascular and Neuronal Defects by Targeting P2rx7

Sofia Pavlou, Josy Augustine, Rónán Cunning, Kevin Harkin, Alan W Stitt, Heping Xu, Mei Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
192 Downloads (Pure)


Retinal vascular and neuronal degeneration are established pathological features of diabetic retinopathy. Data suggest that defects in the neuroglial network precede the clinically recognisable vascular lesions in the retina. Therefore, new treatments that target early-onset neurodegeneration would be expected to have great value in preventing the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Here, we show that the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor lamivudine (3TC), a newly discovered P2rx7 inhibitor, can attenuate progression of both neuronal and vascular pathology in diabetic retinopathy. We found that the expression of P2rx7 was increased in the murine retina as early as one month following diabetes induction. Compared to non-diabetic controls, diabetic mice treated with 3TC were protected against the formation of acellular capillaries in the retina. This occurred concomitantly with a maintenance in neuroglial function, as shown by improved a- and b-wave amplitude, as well as oscillatory potentials. An improvement in the number of GABAergic amacrine cells and the synaptophysin-positive area was also observed in the inner retina of 3TC-treated diabetic mice. Our data suggest that 3TC has therapeutic potential since it can target both neuronal and vascular defects caused by diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2101
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2019


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