BACKGROUND: Several physiological studies in recent years have convincingly demonstrated increased clearance of intravascular protein tracers by several different tissues, including the retina, during early diabetes and galactosemia in the rat. This change has been described as a consequence of increased permeation, although vascular leakage has not been demonstrated, and the fate of such tracers remains unelucidated. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: A pilot study in this laboratory showed no evidence of vascular leakage but suggested increased endocytosis of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) by retinal vascular endothelial cells (RVECs) in early diabetes. We therefore quantified RVEC endocytosis in normal, streptozotocin (STZ)-treated nondiabetic and STZ-diabetic rats using the design-based stereology method of "vertical sections." A duration of diabetes (6 weeks) was chosen to approximate the time period in which other workers have demonstrated increased protein permeation of the retina. RESULTS: After a 20-minute exposure to the tracer, HRP reaction product was observed in small vesicular and tubular endosomes and larger multivesicular bodies of the RVECs. Stereological analysis revealed a 6.5-fold increase in the volume of HRP-containing organelles in the RVECs of diabetic rats compared with STZ-treated nondiabetics or normal controls. None of the animals in this study showed HRP reaction product outside the retinal vascular endothelium. CONCLUSIONS: A highly significant increase in RVEC endocytosis occurs in early diabetes. Increased RVEC endocytosis may contribute to the observed clearance of intravascular protein tracers by the retina during early diabetes.
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Apr 1995|