The TetO rat as a new translational model for type 2 diabetic retinopathy by inducible insulin receptor knockdown


  • N. Reichhart
  • S. Crespo-Garcia
  • N. Haase
  • M. Golic
  • S. Skosyrski
  • A. Rübsam
  • C. Herrspiegel
  • N. Kociok
  • N. Alenina
  • M. Bader
  • R. Dechend
  • O. Strauss
  • A.M. Joussen


  • Diabetologia


  • Diabetologia 60 (1): 202-211


  • AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Although the renin-angiotensin system plays an important role in the progression of diabetic retinopathy, its influence therein has not been systematically evaluated. Here we test the suitability of a new translational model of diabetic retinopathy, the TetO rat, for addressing the role of angiotensin-II receptor 1 (AT1) blockade in experimental diabetic retinopathy. METHODS: Diabetes was induced by tetracycline-inducible small hairpin RNA (shRNA) knockdown of the insulin receptor in rats, generating TetO rats. Systemic treatment consisted of an AT1 blocker (ARB) at the onset of diabetes, following which, 4-5 weeks later the retina was analysed in vivo and ex vivo. Retinal function was assessed by Ganzfeld electroretinography (ERG). RESULTS: Retinal vessels in TetO rats showed differences in vessel calibre, together with gliosis. The total number and the proportion of activated mononuclear phagocytes was increased. TetO rats presented with loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGC) and ERG indicated photoreceptor malfunction. Both the inner and outer blood-retina barriers were affected. The ARB treated group showed reduced gliosis and an overall amelioration of retinal function, alongside RGC recovery, whilst no statistically significant differences in vascular and inflammatory features were detected. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: The TetO rat represents a promising translational model for the early neurovascular changes associated with type 2 diabetic retinopathy. ARB treatment had an effect on the neuronal component of the retina but not on the vasculature.