Radiation and diabetic retinopathy: a dark synergy

Tom A. Gardiner, Desmond B. Archer, Giuliana Silvestri, Winfried M. Amoaku

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Exacerbation of the vascular pathology in radiation retinopathy as a result of pre-existing diabetes has been recognized for many years, as reflected by clinical reports and a few early experimental studies. However, the underlying pathogenetic mechanisms for the synergistic interaction of radiation retinopathy (RR) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) have not been compared and evaluated for insight on this phenomenon. The present work draws attention to the roles of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) as common mediators of both conditions and sources of ongoing cellular injury in the radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE) and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Chronic hyperglycemia-mediated oxidative stress and depleted antioxidant defense in diabetes, together with impaired DNA damage sensing and repair mechanisms, were identified as the primary elements contributing to the increased severity of RR in diabetic patients. We conclude that apart from strategic genetic mutations affecting the DNA damage response (DDR), diabetes represents the most significant common risk factor for vascular injury as a side effect of radiotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-159
Number of pages40
JournalInternational Journal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date07 Mar 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 Mar 2023


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