Antagonism of CD11b with neutrophil inhibitory factor (NIF) inhibits vascular lesions in diabetic retinopathy

PLoS One. 2013 Oct 21;8(10):e78405. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078405. eCollection 2013.


Leukocytes and proteins that govern leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells play a causal role in retinal abnormalities characteristic of the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, including diabetes-induced degeneration of retinal capillaries. Leukocyte integrin αmβ2 (CD11b/CD18, MAC1), a protein mediating adhesion, has been shown to mediate damage to endothelial cells by activated leukocytes in vitro. We hypothesized that Neutrophil Inhibitory Factor (NIF), a selective antagonist of integrin αmβ2, would inhibit the diabetes-induced degeneration of retinal capillaries by inhibiting the excessive interaction between leukocytes and retinal endothelial cells in diabetes. Wild type animals and transgenic animals expressing NIF were made diabetic with streptozotocin and assessed for diabetes-induced retinal vascular abnormalities and leukocyte activation. To assess if the leukocyte blocking therapy compromised the immune system, animals were challenged with bacteria. Retinal superoxide production, leukostasis and leukocyte superoxide production were increased in wild type mice diabetic for 10 weeks, as was the ability of leukocytes isolated from diabetic animals to kill retinal endothelial cells in vitro. Retinal capillary degeneration was significantly increased in wild type mice diabetic 40 weeks. In contrast, mice expressing NIF did not develop any of these abnormalities, with the exception that non-diabetic and diabetic mice expressing NIF generated greater amounts of superoxide than did similar mice not expressing NIF. Importantly, NIF did not significantly impair the ability of mice to clear an opportunistic bacterial challenge, suggesting that NIF did not compromise immune surveillance. We conclude that antagonism of CD11b (integrin αmβ2) by NIF is sufficient to inhibit early stages of diabetic retinopathy, while not compromising the basic immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD11b Antigen / metabolism*
  • Capillaries / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Leukostasis / metabolism
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism
  • Retinal Vessels / metabolism*
  • Streptozocin / pharmacology
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • CD11b Antigen
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen
  • Superoxides
  • Streptozocin