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Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the most common cause of blindness in the working age population. Early events of DR are accompanied by neurodegeneration of the inner retina resulting in ganglion cell loss. These findings together with reduced retinal thickness are observed within the first weeks of experimental DR. Besides, an inflammatory process is triggered in DR in which the innate immune response plays a relevant role. Alpha 1 antitrypsin (AAT), an inhibitor of serine proteases, has shown anti-inflammatory properties in several diseases. We aimed at evaluating the use of AAT to prevent the early changes induced by DR. Diabetic AAT-treated mice showed a delay on ganglion cell loss and retinal thinning. These animals showed a markedly reduced inflammatory status. AAT was able to preserve systemic and retinal TNF-α level similar to that of control mice. Furthermore, retinal macrophages found in the AAT-treated diabetic mouse exhibited M2 profile (F4/80+CD206+) together with an anti-inflammatory microenvironment. We thus demonstrated that AAT-treated mice show less retinal neurodegenerative changes and have reduced levels of systemic and retinal TNF-α. Our results contribute to shed light on the use of AAT as a possible therapeutic option in DR.Alpha-1-antitrypsin slowed neurodegeneration in early diabetic retinopathy.Systemic and retinal levels of TNF-alpha were lowered by alpha-1-antitrypsin.AAT treated mice showed a retinal pattern of M2-type macrophages.