Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids preserve retinal function in type 2 diabetic mice


Sapieha P, Chen J, Stahl A, Seaward MR, Favazza TL, Juan AM, Hatton CJ, Joyal J-S, Krah NM, Dennison RJ, Tang J, Kern TS, Akula JD, Smith LEH. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids preserve retinal function in type 2 diabetic mice. Nutr Diabetes 2012;2:e36.

Date Published:

2012 Jul 23


OBJECTIVE: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is associated with hyperglycemia-driven microvascular pathology and neuronal compromise in the retina. However, DR is also linked to dyslipidemia. As omega-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are protective in proliferative retinopathy, we investigated the capacity of ω-3PUFAs to preserve retinal function in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). DESIGN: Male leptin-receptor-deficient (db/db) mice were maintained for 22 weeks (4 weeks-26 weeks of life) on calorically and compositionally matched diets, except for 2% enrichment in either ω-3 or ω-6PUFAs. Visual function was assessed at 9, 14 and 26 weeks by electroretinography. Retinal capillary and neuronal integrity, as well as glucose challenge responses, were assessed on each diet. RESULTS: The ω-3PUFA diet significantly preserved retinal function in the mouse model of T2DM to levels similar to those observed in nondiabetic control mice on normal chow. Conversely, retinal function gradually deteriorated in db/db mice on a ω-6PUFA-rich diet. There was also an enhanced ability of ω-3PUFA-fed mice to respond to glucose challenge. The protection of visual function appeared to be independent of cytoprotective or anti-inflammatory effects of ω-3PUFAs. CONCLUSION: This study identifies beneficial effects of dietary ω-3PUFAs on visual function in T2DM. The data are consistent with dyslipidemia negatively impacting retinal function. As ω-3PUFA lipid dietary interventions are readily available, safe and inexpensive, increasing ω-3PUFA intake in diabetic patients may slow the progression of vision loss in T2DM.

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