Maria Consiglia Trotta, Carlo Gesualdo, Marina Russo, Caterina Claudia Lepre, Francesco Petrillo, Maria Giovanna Vastarella, Maddalena Nicoletti, Francesca Simonelli, Anca Hermenean, Michele D’Amico, Settimio Rossi

Changes in Circulating Acylated Ghrelin and Neutrophil Elastase in Diabetic Retinopathy

  • General Medicine

Background and Objectives: The role and the levels of ghrelin in diabetes-induced retinal damage have not yet been explored. The present study aimed to measure the serum levels of total ghrelin (TG), and its acylated (AG) and des-acylated (DAG) forms in patients with the two stages of diabetic retinopathy (DR), non-proliferative (NPDR) and proliferative (PDR). Moreover, the correlation between serum ghrelin and neutrophil elastase (NE) levels was investigated. Materials and Methods: The serum markers were determined via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in 12 non-diabetic subjects (CTRL), 15 diabetic patients without DR (Diabetic), 15 patients with NPDR, and 15 patients with PDR. Results: TG and AG serum levels were significantly decreased in Diabetic (respectively, p < 0.05 and p < 0.01 vs. CTRL), NPDR (p < 0.01 vs. Diabetic), and in PDR patients (p < 0.01 vs. NPDR). AG serum levels were inversely associated with DR abnormalities (microhemorrhages, microaneurysms, and exudates) progression (r = −0.83, p < 0.01), serum neutrophil percentage (r = −0.74, p < 0.01), and serum NE levels (r = −0.73, p < 0.01). The latter were significantly increased in the Diabetic (p < 0.05 vs. CTRL), NPDR (p < 0.01 vs. Diabetic), and PDR (p < 0.01 vs. PDR) groups. Conclusions: The two DR stages were characterized by decreased AG and increased NE levels. In particular, serum AG levels were lower in PDR compared to NPDR patients, and serum NE levels were higher in the PDR vs. the NPDR group. Together with the greater presence of retinal abnormalities, this could underline a distinctive role of AG in PDR compared to NPDR.

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