Clinical and Experimental Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 255–260 | Cite as

Serum miR-122 levels correlate with diabetic retinopathy

  • Nina Pastukh
  • Ari Meerson
  • Dorina Kalish
  • Hanin Jabaly
  • Arnon BlumEmail author
Original Article


Diabetic retinopathy is the most severe ocular complication of diabetes and may lead to visual disability and blindness. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is characterized by ischemia-induced neovascularization with associated complications. An association was established between the presence of PDR, cardiovascular disease, and mortality among patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes mellitus in epidemiological studies. However, the mechanism underlying increased cardiovascular risk in patients with PDR is still unknown. In recent years, a group of miRNAs has been linked to the pathology of diabetes mellitus. Besides, miRNAs in biofluids such as serum have been suggested as potential minimally invasive biomarkers of diabetes and vascular complications. This was a prospective study that recruited 40 human subjects: 10 healthy subjects, 10 with diabetes but without retinopathy (NDR), 10 with diabetic non-proliferative retinopathy (NPDR), and 10 with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). To examine whether serum miRNAs show altered levels at different stages of diabetic retinopathy, seven specific miRNA candidates (miR-126-3p, miR-130a-3p, miR-21-1, let-7f-5p, miR-122, miR-30c and miR-451a) were measured by qRT-PCR in RNA isolated from sera of all subjects. miR-122 levels increased in parallel with retinopathy severity: from healthy controls to NDR and from NDR to NPDR. However, when the disease progressed to PDR a marked decrease in miR-122 level was noted. This decrease was significant both compared to NPDR samples (p = 0.016) and to all non-PDR samples (p = 0.0002). Additionally, a positive trend was observed comparing miR-122 levels and the number of endothelial progenitor cells in the sera of all subjects. A significant increase in miR-122 was found in patients with diabetic retinopathy that may be related to its role in preventing angiogenesis and proliferation. The dramatic decline in patients with PDR may represent an inhibition or exhaustion of the anti-angiogenic anti-proliferative defense system. Further studies are needed to understand whether miRNA-122 has a role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy.


miRNA 122 Diabetes mellitus Diabetic reinopathy 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vascular Biology Research Laboratory, Baruch Padeh Medical Center and Faculty of Medicine in the GalileeBar Ilan UniversitySafedIsrael
  2. 2.MIGAL Galilee Research Institute and Tel Hai Academic CollegeKiryat ShmonaIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Ophthalmology, Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Azrieli Faculty of MedicineBar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Baruch Padeh Medical Center, and Azrieli Faculty of MedicineBar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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