CIRCULATING ANTIPERICYTE AUTOANTIBODIES: A Novel Modifier of Risk of Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy?

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Antipericyte autoantibodies (APAAs) are present in high frequency among diabetic subjects with and without nonproliferative retinopathy. This study aimed to determine whether progression of retinopathy in type 2 diabetes was associated with the same medical risk factors in APAA-positive subjects as in APAA-negative subjects.


Type 2 diabetic patients with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy at baseline were followed prospectively for 2 years monitoring progression of retinopathy. Thirty-eight (21.7%) of 175 patients had progression in Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study grade by ≥2 steps in at least 1 eye. Serum APAAs were detected by immunofluorescence on tissue-cultured bovine retinal pericytes.


Progression of retinopathy was associated with HbA1c level (P = 0.002), diabetes duration (P = 0.03), and albumin/creatinine ratio (P = 0.02) in APAA-negative subjects but not in APAA-positive subjects. The association between progression and APAAs was strongest in the upper quartile for HbA1c level (>8.0%), where 71.4% of patients negative for APAAs had progression of retinopathy while only 24.1% of patients positive for APAAs had progression (P = 0.007).


The results suggest that APAA presence is a modifier of risk of progression of retinopathy due to hyperglycemia and that it could be useful as a biochemical marker of risk of progression of diabetic retinopathy in type 2 diabetic patients with poor metabolic control.

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