Aims/hypothesis: Glycated proteins, formed by reaction of glucose and protein, react further yielding numerous, mostly undefined advanced glycation end products (AGE). The recently characterized imidazolone-type AGE (AG-1) is non-oxidatively formed involving 3-deoxyglucosone whereas some AGEs, particularly N(epsilon)-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML), are formed only in the presence of oxygen.
Methods: To study the possible contribution of oxidative and non-oxidative AGE formation in the development of diabetic retinopathy antibodies directed against CML-type and imidazolone-type AGEs were characterized by dot blot analysis and used to localize these well-characterized epitops in the retinas from diabetic rats (early course) and from human Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus with laser-treated proliferative diabetic retinopathy (late course).
Results: In non-diabetic rats CML was moderately positive in neuroglial and vascular structures of non-diabetic rat retinas and increased strongly in diabetic retinas. Anti-imidiazolone antibody staining was strongly positive only in diabetic capillaries. Advanced human diabetic retinopathy showed strong CML-immunolabelling of the entire retina whereas control samples showed moderate staining of neuroglial structures only with the polyclonal CML-antibody. Anti-imidiazolone antibody staining was faint in the inner retina of control sections but were strong throughout the entire diabetic retina. Immunolabelling for the AGE-receptor was congruent with a marker of Müller cells.
Conclusion/interpretation: Our data indicate that the oxidatively formed CML is present in non-diabetic retinas as a regular constituent but increases in diabetes both in neuroglial and vascular components. Imidazolone-type AGE are restricted to microvessels and spread during later stages over the entire retina, co-localizing with the expression of AGE-receptor.