Comparison of expression profiling of circular RNAs in vitreous humour between diabetic retinopathy and non-diabetes mellitus patients



To compare circular (circRNA) expression levels in the vitreous humour between PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy) and the control groups.


The present study collected vitreous humour samples of both the PDR group and the control group (composed of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, idiopathic macular hole and idiopathic macular epiretinal membrane). All the samples were subjected to circRNA and mRNA sequencing as well as bioinformatic analysis.


The vitreous humour of the PDR and control groups was collected during PPV surgery. Compared to the control group, 122 upregulated and 9 downregulated circRNAs, and 818 upregulated mRNAs and 864 downregulated mRNAs were identified. We further selected 12 circRNAs to validate the RNA expression level by qPCR; results showed that with the exception of 2 downregulated circRNAs the remaining were significantly upregulated in the PDR group, which was consistent with RNA sequencing results. Bioinformatic analysis was conducted to predict possible miRNAs absorbed by circRNAs. Each circRNA could interact with at least five miRNAs. We randomly chose three miRNAs to test the expression level in the vitreous humour by qPCR and found these miRNAs were significantly downregulated in the PDR group.


The changed profiling of circRNAs in the vitreous humour was reliable and may become a promising biomarker of DR and the circRNA–miRNA–mRNA network. It may also play an important role in the progression of DR.

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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (ID 81900866) and Medical Scientific Research Foundation of Guangdong Province (Grant Number B2018096).

Author information




All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Miao He, Wei Wang and Liang Zhang. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Miao He, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Liang Zhang.

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Ethical Standard Statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The current study was approved by the Ethical Review Committee of Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital (Number 2016232A).

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This article belongs to the topical collection Eye Complications of Diabetes managed by Giuseppe Querques.

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He, M., Wang, W., Yu, H. et al. Comparison of expression profiling of circular RNAs in vitreous humour between diabetic retinopathy and non-diabetes mellitus patients. Acta Diabetol 57, 479–489 (2020).

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  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • circRNA
  • miRNA
  • mRNA
  • Vitreous humour