Dr. Lutty's lab has also studied why blood vessels get blocked in diabetic retina as well. They found that a type of white blood cell called a neutrophil appears to get stuck in diabetic retina. An example of a normal retinal vasculature stained with the ADPase technique that was developed in the Lutty labs is shown in Picture 3. If you mouse over the picture, the retinal blood vessels will be removed and the blood vessels of choroid will come into focus.
We have also developed a technique to study the choroidal blood vessels in two dimensions. The choroid provides nutrition and oxygen to keep the photoreceptors healthy; photoreceptors are cells that see light and record images which are sent to the brain. We have demonstrated that not only are retinal blood vessels occluded in diabetes (Picture 4) but that diabetic choroidal vessels become blocked as well (mouse over Picture 4 and a diabetic choroid can be seen).
The same cells, neutrophils, appear to block the choroidal blood vessels (Picture 5) as well as retinal blood vessels (Picture 6) in diabetic subjects. Prevention of neutrophil binding to the blood vessel wall in diabetes could be a therapeutic target in the future.