Purpose: microRNAs (miRNAs) mediate the pathological mechanisms of diabetic retinopathy. In this study, we compared miRNA expression profiles in the vitreous between patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and patients with a macular hole as non-diabetic controls, and between PDR patients treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy and untreated PDR patients.
Methods: Vitreous samples of non-diabetic and PDR patients were screened for miRNAs with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) panels. miRNA candidates were validated in vitreous samples of a second, independent cohort. In addition, the effect of anti-VEGF therapy was investigated in the vitreous of a third study population consist-ing of PDR patients who had not received anti-VEGF therapy and PDR patients who had received preoperative anti-VEGF therapy.
Results: During screening, seven miRNAs were found to be significantly higher in the vitreous of PDR patients, whereas two miRNAs were found to be significantly lower compared with non-diabetic controls. Validating the expression of these miRNAs in a second cohort resulted in the identification of six miRNAs that were expressed at significantly higher rates in the vitreous of PDR patients: hsa-miR-20a-5p, hsa-miR-23b-3p, hsa-miR-142-3p, hsa-miR-185-5p, hsa-miR-326, and hsa-miR-362-5p. Among these six miRNAs, hsa-miR-23b-3p levels were lower in the anti-VEGF-treated group of PDR patients compared with untreated PDR patients.
Conclusions: In this study, we identified six miRNAs that are expressed more highly in PDR patients and one miRNA that is expressed at a lower levels in anti-VEGF-treated PDR patients.
Translational Relevance: miRNAs identified in the vitreous of PDR patients may improve our understanding of the mechanisms leading to PDR.