Strain-independent increases of crystallin proteins in the retina of type 1 diabetic rats

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 13;8(12):e82520. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082520. eCollection 2013.


Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in working-age individuals in the United States and is expected to continue growing with the increased prevalence of diabetes. Streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia in rats is the most commonly used model for diabetic retinopathy. Previous studies have shown that this model can lead to different inflammatory changes in the retina depending on the strain of rat. Our previous work has shown that crystallin proteins, including members of the alpha- and beta/gamma-crystallin subfamilies, are upregulated in the STZ rat retina. Crystallin proteins have been implicated in a number of cellular processes, such as neuroprotection, non-native protein folding and vascular remodeling. In this current study, we have demonstrated that unlike other strain-dependent changes, such as inflammatory cytokines and growth factor levels, in the STZ rat, the protein upregulation of crystallins is consistent across the Brown Norway, Long-Evans and Sprague-Dawley rat strains in the context of diabetes. Taken together, these data illustrate the potential critical role played by crystallins, and especially alpha-crystallins, in the retina in the context of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crystallins / genetics
  • Crystallins / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / genetics
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression
  • Male
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rats
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • alpha-Crystallins / genetics
  • alpha-Crystallins / metabolism
  • beta-Crystallins / genetics
  • beta-Crystallins / metabolism
  • gamma-Crystallins / genetics
  • gamma-Crystallins / metabolism


  • Crystallins
  • alpha-Crystallins
  • beta-Crystallins
  • gamma-Crystallins