Metabolomics Analysis of Human Vitreous in Diabetic Retinopathy and Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment

J Proteome Res. 2018 Jul 6;17(7):2421-2427. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00169. Epub 2018 Jun 19.


The vitreous humor is a highly aqueous eye fluid interfacing with the retina and lens and providing shape. Its molecular composition provides a readout for the eye's physiological status. Changes in cellular metabolism underlie vitreoretinal pathologies, but despite routine surgical collection of vitreous, only limited reports of metabolism in the vitreous of human patients have been described. Vitreous samples from patients with rhegmatogenous retinal detachment ( n = 25) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy ( n = 9) were profiled along with control human vitreous samples ( n = 8) by untargeted mass-spectrometry-based metabolomics. Profound changes were observed in diabetic retinopathy vitreous, including altered glucose metabolism and activation of the pentose phosphate pathway, which provides reducing equivalents to counter oxidative stress. In addition, purine metabolism was altered in diabetic retinopathy, with decreased xanthine and elevated levels of related purines (inosine, hypoxanthine, urate, allantoate) generated in oxidant-producing reactions. In contrast, the vitreous metabolite profiles of retinal detachment patients were similar to controls. In total, our results suggest a rewiring of vitreous metabolism in diabetic retinopathy that underlies disease features such as oxidative stress and furthermore illustrates how the vitreous metabolic profile may be impacted by disease.

Keywords: absolute quantification; diabetic retinopathy; mass spectrometry; retinal detachment; untargeted metabolomics; vitreoretinal disease; vitreous.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Retinopathy / metabolism*
  • Eye Diseases, Hereditary / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Purines / metabolism
  • Retinal Detachment / metabolism*
  • Vitreous Body / metabolism*
  • Xanthine / metabolism


  • Purines
  • Xanthine
  • Glucose

Supplementary concepts

  • Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment, Autosomal Dominant