The importance of glial cells in the homeostasis of the retinal microenvironment and their pivotal role in the course of diabetic retinopathy

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Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a remarkable microvascular complication of diabetes and it has been considered the leading cause of legal blindness in working-age adults in the world. Several overlapping and interrelated molecular pathways are involved in the development of this disease. DR is staged into different levels of severity, from the nonproliferative to the advanced proliferative form.Over the years the progression of DR evolves through a series of changes involving distinct types of specialized cells: neural, vascular and glial. Prior to the clinically observable vascular complications, hyperglycemia and inflammation affect retinal glial cells which undergo a wide range of structural and functional alterations. In this review, we provide an overview of the status of macroglia and microglia in the course of DR, trying to briefly take into account the complex biochemical mechanisms that affect the intimate relationship among neuroretina, vessels and glial cells.Graphical abstract:

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