Diabetic retinopathy (DR), a common microvascular complication of diabetes, is the leading cause of acquired blindness in the working-age population. Individuals with diabetes still develop DR despite appropriate glycemic and blood pressure control, highlighting the pressing need to identify useful biomarkers for risk stratification. The purpose of this review is to systematically summarize potential metabolic biomarkers and pathways of DR, which could facilitate developing an understanding of the disease mechanisms, as well as new therapeutic measures.
We searched PubMed and Web of Science for relevant metabolomics studies on humans published before September 30, 2020. Information regarding authors, title, publication date, study subjects, analytical platforms, methods of statistical analysis, biological samples, directions of change of potential metabolic biomarkers, and predictive values of metabolic biomarker panels was extracted, and the quality of the studies was assessed. Pathway analysis, including enrichment analysis and topology analysis, was derived from integrating differential metabolites using MetaboAnalyst 3.0, based on the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes and Human Metabolome Database.
We found nine studies focused on the identification of potential biomarkers. Repeatedly identified metabolites including l-glutamine, l-lactic acid, pyruvic acid, acetic acid, l-glutamic acid, d-glucose, l-alanine, l-threonine, citrulline, l-lysine, and succinic acid were found to be potential biomarkers of DR. It was observed that l-glutamine and citrulline changed in all biological samples. Dysregulation of metabolic pathways involved amino acid and energy metabolism.
This review summarizes potential biomarkers and metabolic pathways, providing insights into new pathogenic pathways for this microvascular complication of diabetes.