Purpose: The aim of this study was to characterize the ocular morphology of low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient apolipoprotein B-100-only mice, where overexpression of insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) has been shown to induce glucose intolerance and increase atherosclerotic lesion progression and calcification.
Methods: Fifteen-month-old mice were examined on a normal chow diet and after 3 months of a high-fat Western diet. IGF-II-negative LDLR(-/-)ApoB(100/100) littermates and C57Bl/6J mice served as controls. In vivo color images of the fundi were obtained, and eyes were processed either for retinal flat mounts for assessment of neovascularization or for paraffin-embedded samples for immunohistochemical analyses.
Results: IGF-II overexpression and the resulting prediabetic phenotype did not induce microvascular damage when assessed in fundus photographs and retinal whole mounts, and the number of capillaries in IGF-II/LDLR(-/-)ApoB(100/100) mice was not significantly different from LDLR(-/-)ApoB(100/100) mice. However, morphology of the inner nuclear, outer plexiform, and outer nuclear layers was altered in the IGF-II/LDLR(-/-)ApoB(100/100) mice. Moreover, photoreceptor atrophy and thinning of the outer nuclear layer were present. Caspase-3 staining was positive in the photoreceptor inner segment. In addition, retinas of the IGF-II/LDLR(-/-)ApoB(100/100) mice displayed reduced rhodopsin positivity, consistent with the decreased number of photoreceptor cells.
Conclusions: This study reports a novel form of retinopathy with photoreceptor atrophy and abundant changes in retinal morphology in a mouse model of prediabetes and atherosclerosis.