Purpose: MicroRNA (miR) expression in endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in type 1 diabetes (DM1) and its relation with different stages of diabetic retinopathy (DR) have not been reported to date. Our aim was to analyze miR-222, miR-221, and miR-126 expression in EPCs from DM1 patients with and without DR.
Methods: We included 41 patients with DR, 35 without DR, and 38 controls. Blood was collected for flow cytometry and EPC culture. Total RNA was extracted and purified and real-time quantitative PCR was performed for miR expression in cultured EPCs. Relative changes in miR expression were analyzed with the 2-ΔΔCT method.
Results: Circulating EPCs were reduced and miR-126 expression was increased in DM1 compared to controls (0.030 [interquartile range [IQR], 0.020-0.050] vs. 0.060 [IQR, 0.030-0.110], P = 0.004; 1.740 [IQR, 0.890-4.120] vs. 0.990 [IQR, 0.487-3.015], P = 0.047 respectively) without differences between patients with and without DR. Patients with DR had higher expression of miR-221 than those without DR (1.405 [IQR, 0.820-2.867] vs. 0.915 [IQR, 0.507-1.292], P = 0.019) without differences among degrees of DR. Circulating EPCs were reduced in patients on statins (0.010 [IQR, 0.010-0.050] vs. 0.045 [IQR, 0.020-0.087], P = 0.008), and miR-221 expression increased in patients on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) II (1.430 [IQR, 1.160-2.705] vs. 1.000 [IQR, 0.520-1.330], P = 0.021) compared to those without treatment. MicroRNA-126 expression was associated with body mass index (BMI; ρ = -0.267, P = 0.026) and diastolic blood pressure (ρ = -0.267, P = 0.034). MicroRNA-221 was associated with triglyceride concentration (ρ = 0.296, P = 0.012).
Conclusions: Circulating EPCs were reduced and miR-126 expression was increased in DM1 compared to controls. Patients with DR had higher expression of miR-221 than those without DR. The identification of biomarkers of diabetic complications might be useful for monitoring disease progression and potential therapeutic targets.