Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of the population with diabetes, and these patients are generally obese and hyperlipidemic. In addition to hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia is also closely related with diabetic retinopathy. The aim was to investigate retinopathy in a model closely mimicking the normal progression and metabolic features of the population with type 2 diabetes and elucidate the molecular mechanism. Retinopathy was evaluated in rats fed a 45% kcal as fat diet for 8 weeks before administering streptozotocin, 30 mg/kg body weight (T2D), and compared with age- and duration-matched type 1 diabetic rats (T1D) (60 mg/kg streptozotocin). The role of epigenetic modifications in mitochondrial damage was evaluated in retinal microvasculature. T2D rats were obese and severely hyperlipidemic, with impaired glucose and insulin tolerance compared with age-matched T1D rats. While at 4 months of diabetes, T1D rats had no detectable retinopathy, T2D rats had significant retinopathy, their mitochondrial copy numbers were lower, and mtDNA and Rac1 promoter DNA methylation was exacerbated. At 6 months, retinopathy was comparable in T2D and T1D rats, suggesting that obesity exaggerates hyperglycemia-induced epigenetic modifications, accelerating mitochondrial damage and diabetic retinopathy. Thus, maintenance of good lifestyle and BMI could be beneficial in regulating epigenetic modifications and preventing/retarding retinopathy in patients with diabetes.
- Received October 7, 2019.
- Accepted January 8, 2020.
- © 2020 by the American Diabetes Association.