Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the common complications in diabetic patients. Nowadays, VEGF pathway is subject to extensive research. However, about 27% of the patients have a poor visual outcome, with 50% still having edema after two years’ treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME) with ranibizumab. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the primary ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA), reduces abnormal neovascularization and alleviates neovascular eye diseases. A study reported that fish oil reduced the incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) by about 27.5% in preterm infants. Although ω-3 LC-PUFAs protects against pathological retinal neovascularization, the treatment effectiveness is low. It is interesting to investigate why DHA therapy fails in some patients. In human vitreous humor samples, we found that the ratio of DHA and DHA-derived metabolites to total fatty acids was higher in vitreous humor from DR patients than that from macular hole patients; however, the ratio of DHA metabolites to DHA and DHA-derived metabolites was lower in the diabetic vitreous humor. The expression of Mfsd2a, the LPC-DHA transporter, was reduced in the oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model and streptozotocin (STZ) model. In vitro, Mfsd2a overexpression inhibited endothelial cell proliferation, migration and vesicular transcytosis. Moreover, Mfsd2a overexpression in combination with the DHA diet obviously reduced abnormal retinal neovascularization and vascular leakage, which is more effective than Mfsd2a overexpression alone. These results suggest that DHA therapy failure in some DR patients is linked to low expression of Mfsd2a, and the combination of Mfsd2a overexpression and DHA therapy may be an effective treatment.
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