OBJECTIVE

To correlate inflammatory cytokines and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in vitreous and plasma with vitreous retinol binding protein 3 (RBP3), diabetic retinopathy (DR) severity, and DR worsening in a population with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

RBP3, VEGF, and inflammatory cytokines were measured in plasma and vitreous samples (n = 205) from subjects of the Joslin Medalist Study and Beetham Eye Institute.

RESULTS

Higher vitreous RBP3 concentrations were associated with less severe DR (P < 0.0001) and a reduced risk of developing proliferative DR (PDR) (P < 0.0001). Higher RBP3 correlated with increased photoreceptor segment thickness and lower vitreous interleukin-12 (IL-12), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and TNF-β (P < 0.05). PDR was associated with lower vitreous interferon-γ and IL-10 and higher VEGF, IL-6, and IL-15 (P < 0.05), but was not associated with their plasma concentrations.

CONCLUSIONS

Higher vitreous RBP3 concentrations are associated with less severe DR and slower rates of progression to PDR, supporting its potential as a biomarker and therapeutic agent for preventing DR worsening, possibly by lowering retinal VEGF and inflammatory cytokines.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.20174006.

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