Identification of new pathogenic candidates for diabetic macular edema using fluorescence-based difference gel electrophoresis analysis

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Diabetic macular edema is the main cause of visual impairment in diabetic patients. The aim of the present study was to explore the differential proteomic pattern of the vitreous fluid from diabetic macular edema patients by means of fluorescence-based difference gel electrophoresis (DIGE).


Samples of vitreous from eight type 2 diabetic patients [four with diabetic macular edema without proliferative diabetic retinopathy and four with proliferative diabetic retinopathy without diabetic macular edema), and eight from non-diabetic subjects with idiopathic macular hole (control group) were selected from our vitreous bank for proteomic analysis. To further confirm the potential candidates identified by DIGE, 18 additional samples (six proliferative diabetic retinopathy, six diabetic macular edema and six macular hole, matched by age) were analysed by enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assay (ELISA).


Selecting an abundance ratio of 1.5-fold, p < 0.05, as the threshold for the study, four proteins were specifically associated with diabetic macular edema. Hemopexin was significantly higher in the vitreous fluid of patients with diabetic macular edema in comparison with both control subjects and proliferative diabetic retinopathy patients. By contrast, clusterin, transthyretin and crystallin S were significantly decreased in the vitreous of patients with diabetic macular edema. The differential production of hemopexin, clusterin and transthyretin was further confirmed by ELISA.


Proteomic analysis by DIGE was useful in identifying new potential candidates involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic macular edema. These results could open up new strategies in the treatment of diabetic macular edema. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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