Given the association of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and kidney disease, we investigated the urinary proteome to presence and deterioration of DR in a post hoc analysis of trials investigating the effect of candesartan on progression of DR in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, respectively.
Baseline urinary proteomic analysis was performed on a random selection of 783 and 792 subjects in two randomized controlled trials, DIRECT-Protect 1 and 2, respectively. Endpoints were two-step (RET2) and three-step (RET3) change in Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy Study protocol (ETDRS) defined level. Peptide levels were correlated to baseline EDTRS level in a discovery set of 2/3 of the participants from DIRECT-Protect 1. Identified peptides were then validated cross-sectionally in the remaining 1/3 from DIRECT-Protect 1. Thereafter, peptides identified in the discovery set were assessed in the entire DIRECT-Protect 1 and 2 cohorts and significant peptides were tested longitudinally.
Follow-up ranged 4.0-4.7 years. 24 peptides were associated with baseline DR in the discovery set. Two (COL3A1 (seq: NTG~) and COL4A1 (seq: DGA~) were associated with baseline DR in the validation set (Rho: -0.223, p<0.001 and Rho: -0.141, p=0.024). Neither was significantly associated with endpoints. Assessing the 24 identified peptides in the entire cohorts, several collagen peptides were associated with baseline DR and endpoints, however there was no overlap across diabetes types.
We identified several urinary peptides (mainly collagen) associated with the presence of DR, however they could not be conclusively associated with worsening of DR.

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