Date Published:2015 Mar 2
The paucity of animal models exhibiting full pathology of diabetic retinopathy (DR) has impeded understanding of the pathogenesis of DR and the development of therapeutic interventions. Here we investigated if hyperhexosemic marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) develop characteristic retinal vascular lesions including macular edema (ME), a leading cause of vision loss in DR. Marmosets maintained on 30% galactose (gal)-rich diet for two years were monitored for retinal vascular permeability, development of ME, and morphological characteristics including acellular capillaries (AC) and pericyte loss (PL), vessel tortuosity, and capillary basement membrane (BM) thickness. Excess vascular permeability, increased number of AC and PL, vascular BM thickening, and increased vessel tortuosity were observed in the retinas of gal-fed marmosets. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) images revealed significant thickening of the retinal foveal and the juxtafoveal area, and histological analysis showed incipient microaneurysms in retinas of gal-fed marmosets. Findings from this study indicate that hyperhexosemia can trigger retinal vascular changes similar to those seen in human DR including ME and microaneurysms. The striking similarities between the marmoset retina and the human retina, and the exceptionally small size of the monkey, offer significant advantages to this primate model of DR.