Date Published:2015 Feb
Pericytes, the mural cells that constitute the capillaries along with endothelial cells, have been associated with the pathobiology of diabetic retinopathy; however, therapeutic implications of this association remain largely unexplored. Pericytes appear to be highly susceptible to the metabolic challenges associated with a diabetic environment, and there is substantial evidence that their loss may contribute to microvascular instability leading to the formation of microaneurysms, microhemorrhages, acellular capillaries, and capillary nonperfusion. Since pericytes are strategically located at the interface between the vascular and neural components of the retina, they offer extraordinary opportunities for therapeutic interventions in diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, the availability of novel imaging methodologies now allows for the in vivo visualization of pericytes, enabling a new generation of clinical trials that use pericyte tracking as clinical endpoints. The recognition of multiple signaling mechanisms involved in pericyte development and survival should allow for a renewed interest in pericytes as a therapeutic target for diabetic retinopathy.