Previous studies demonstrated that systemic treatment with tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) is protective in in vivo mouse models of retinal degeneration and in culture models of hyperglycemia. This study tested the hypothesis that TUDCA will preserve visual and retinal function in a mouse model of early diabetic retinopathy (DR).
Adult C57BL/6J mice were treated with streptozotocin (STZ) and made diabetic at 8-10 weeks of age. Control and diabetic mice were treated with vehicle or TUDCA starting 1 or 3 weeks after induction of diabetes, and were assessed bimonthly for visual function via an optomotor response and monthly for retinal function via scotopic electroretinograms.
Diabetic mice showed significantly reduced spatial frequency and contrast sensitivity thresholds compared to control mice, while diabetic mice treated early with TUDCA showed preservation at all timepoints. A-wave, b-wave, and oscillatory potential 2 (OP2) amplitudes decreased in diabetic mice. Diabetic mice also exhibited delays in a-wave and OP2-implicit times. Early TUDCA treatment ameliorated a-wave, b-wave, and OP2 deficits. Late TUDCA treatment showed reduced preservation effects compared to early treatment.
Early TUDCA treatment preserved visual function in an STZ-mouse model of Type I diabetes. These data add to a growing body of preclinical research that may support testing whether TUDCA may be an effective early clinical intervention against declining visual function caused by diabetic retinopathy.