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New targets for diabetic retinopathy

Jan. 21, 2016, 11:00 AM

by Yan Su

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the major causes of blindness in working age adults.

The inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) plays an important role in retinal leukostasis, adhesion of leukocytes to the vascular endothelium, a common pathogenic feature of diabetic retinopathy.

Nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT) transcription factors regulate a subset of genes involved in leukocyte adhesion and recruitment.

John S. Penn, Ph.D., and colleagues examined the effect of knocking down specific NFAT isoforms on TNF-alpha induced gene expression using small interfering RNA (siRNA).

Their report, in the November issue of Scientific Reports, is the first to examine the role of individual NFAT isoforms in the context of leukostasis.

They found that individual isoforms can play counteractive roles in endothelial cell activities, highlighting the importance of evaluating isoforms individually.

They also found that knockdown of NFATc2 and NFATc4 reduced expression of TNF-alpha induced cytokines as well as cell adhesion. These NFAT isoforms thus may be attractive targets for treating diabetic retinopathy.

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