PURPOSE. Diabetic patients who also have retinitis pigmentosa (RP) appear to have fewer and less severe retinal microvascular lesions. Diabetic retinopathy may be linked to increased inner retinal hypoxia, with the possibility that this is exacerbated by oxygen usage during the dark-adaptation response. Therefore, patients with RP with depleted rod photoreceptors may encounter proportionately less retinal hypoxia, and, when diabetes is also present, there may be fewer retinopathic lesions. This hypothesis was tested in rhodopsin knockout mice (Rho(-/-)) as an RP model in which the diabetic milieu is superimposed. The study was designed to investigate whether degeneration of the outer retina has any impact on hypoxia, to examine diabetes-related retinal gene expression responses, and to assess lesions of diabetic retinopathy.
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