Skip to main content
Accessibility|Contact|Privacy|Terms of Service

Unexpected Finding May Deter Diabetic Retinopathy Eye Disease

  • Published: 2018-04-06 : Press Release by Michigan State University : Contact: msu.edu
  • Synopsis: Study is first to reveal a particular type of lipid, or fat, thought to only exist in the skin, now lives in your eye and might play a major role in deterring the eye disease.

Main Document

"Our study presents an unexpected finding that the connections between cells in the retinal blood vessels contain unusual, long-chain lipids that may keep vessels from leaking, possibly preventing diabetic retinopathy from occurring."

Diabetic retinopathy is considered one of the most disabling complications of diabetes and the leading cause of new cases of vision loss among adults.

A new Michigan State University study is the first to find that a particular type of lipid, or fat, thought to only exist in the skin, now lives in your eye and might play a major role in deterring the eye disease.

"Our study presents an unexpected finding that the connections between cells in the retinal blood vessels contain unusual, long-chain lipids that may keep vessels from leaking, possibly preventing diabetic retinopathy from occurring," said Julia Busik, lead author of the study and a physiology professor.

Julia Busik, a Michigan State University physiology professor, is the first to find that a particular type of lipid, or fat, thought to only exist in the skin, now lives in your eye and might play a major role in deterring diabetic retinopathy - Photo Credit: Michigan State University.
About This Image: Julia Busik, a Michigan State University physiology professor, is the first to find that a particular type of lipid, or fat, thought to only exist in the skin, now lives in your eye and might play a major role in deterring diabetic retinopathy - Photo Credit: Michigan State University.
The research is published in the journal Diabetes.

Blood vessels in the retina are closely connected by structures called tight junctions, which are part of the blood-retinal barrier, a virtually impenetrable wall.

Busik, along with graduate student Nermin Kady, showed that these connecting structures contain omega-linked acyl-very long chain ceramides - elongated lipids that appear to strengthen this barrier.

Diabetes can expose blood vessels to high levels of glucose and unhealthy amounts of lipids, which throws off the balance of nutrients that are transported throughout the body.

"When this becomes unbalanced, the vessels leak and become fragile, leading to the development of diabetic retinopathy," Busik said. "It appears though that these long-chain lipids and the enzymes that produce them can protect the retina and its blood vessels."

In cases of diabetes, the enzyme ELOVL4 is suppressed by the disease, which decreases its ability to produce these helpful lipids and prevent further damage.

Next steps for Busik will be to understand what these lipids can really do and how exactly they're situated in the tight junctions of the retina so new treatments may be possible.

"Incorporating more of the long-chain lipids into the eye could potentially be a new treatment down the road and involve injections or even eye drops," she said.

Lipids often get a bad rap due to their association with health issues such as high cholesterol and heart disease, but Busik is encouraged by what she's found.

"There are bad lipids and then there are good lipids," she said. "We've found good lipids in the eye that have the potential of changing the development of diabetic retinopathy."

Busik worked in collaboration with David Antonetti from the University of Michigan. The study was funded by the National Eye Institute.

Similar Topics

1 : Unexpected Finding May Deter Diabetic Retinopathy Eye Disease : Michigan State University.
2 : International Clinical Trial Study of AMD Progression : NIH - National Eye Institute (NEI).
3 : People Who Experience Dry Eye Soon to Have Drug-Free Solution : American Academy of Ophthalmology.
4 : Do Blind People Express Emotions the Same Way as Sighted People : Universite de Geneve.
5 : Visually-Impaired Children Experience Egg Hunt with Eggs That Beep : Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
From our Vision Disability section - Full List (73 Items)


Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Bias Keeps Women with Higher Body Weight Away From the Doctor
2 : Smart Hoteliers are Building a Healthier Future
3 : Teaching Baby Sign Language - Nita, Show Us More
4 : MitoQ Novel Antioxidant Makes Old Arteries Seem Young Again
5 : Telemedicine Helps Overcome Healthcare Gender Based Barriers
6 : Screen Reader Plus Keyboard Helps Blind, Low-Vision Users Browse Modern Webpages
7 : Our Digital Remains Should be Treated with Same Care and Respect as Physical Remains
8 : Tungsten: Concern Over Possible Health Risk by Human Exposure to Tungsten


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™