MicroRNAs (miRNAs/miRs) are implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and its long-term complications such as retinopathy. miRNAs circulating levels have explored as possible biomarkers for the advancement of T2D. We examined the expression of customized set of miRNAs in T2D Qatari nationals with and without diabetic retinopathy (DR) from Qatar Biobank 1000 Qatar omics cohort. MiR‐223 appeared to be significantly upregulated in T2D in comparison to the healthy controls. MiR-223 previously found to play a role in insulin resistant human adipose tissues, human and murine obesity and potential regulators of optic nerve regeneration. To further investigate the potential role of miR-223 in the development of DR, we established a zebrafish (ZF) model to functionally validate this potential correlation. Our aim is to investigate the miR-223 with hyperglycemia on the developing retina in the ZF as a vertebrate model. Mimic miR-223 was injected into single cell ZF embryos and incubated in normal and induced hyperglycemia conditions. We have examined the glucose ratios, eye morphology and vasculature structure in the developing model in comparison to the control groups. To understand the cellular mechanisms involved in DR; histological examination, cell apoptosis and proliferation have been performed and to be evaluated. miR-223 over expression resulted in an alteration of the glucose metabolism within the ZF model. Glucose ratio was significantly increased in ZF embryos injected with mimic miR-223. Increased miR-223 in the developing ZF larvae together with hyperglycemia affected the retinal development. The eye size was significantly reduced with degenerated vasculature and altered eye morphology.

In conclusion, we have identified a novel correlation between DR development and miR-223. Targeting miR-223 in T2D patients may serve as promising therapeutic strategy to control DR in at risk T2D patients.


A. S. Akil: None. S. Da’as: None. L. A. Jerman: None. D. Abdelrahman: None. W. Hasan: None. K. Fakhro: None.


Qatar National Research Fund (NPRP9-229-3-041)

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