Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) involves the growth of new lymphatic vessels in addition to blood vessels, according to new research from investigators at the University of Helsinki in Finland.1 The research, published in the Journal of Pathology, used 3D whole-mount immunofluorescence and electron microscopy and ex vivo analysis to uncover expression of lymphatic markers in the PDR tissues. The finding suggests the ischemia- and inflammation-induced human PDR microenvironment also supports pathological neolymph vascularization, according to the researchers. The study’s abstract indicates this knowledge brings “a new concept to the PDR mechanisms and targeting options.”

“It is increasingly clear that studying the microenvironment is of fundamental importance to understand the mechanisms of a disease,” according to the team’s research director, Kaisa Lehti, who issued a statement to the university’s website.2

The same release explained that knowing PDR’s connection to lymphangiogenesis led to the question of whether PDR involved the growth, or differentiation, of new lymphatic vessels.

1. Gucciardo E, Loukovaara S, Korhonen A, et al. Microenvironment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy supports lymphatic neovascularization. J Pathol. March 18, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].
2. Lehtinen P. The microenvironment of diabetic retinopathy supports lymphatic neovascularization. University of Helsinki. March 23, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2018.