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Antibiotic might stop diabetic eye damage

DiabetesMay 27, 05

Experiments in rats suggest that minocycline, an antibiotic, could curb a common cause of vision problems in people with diabetes.

Minocycline is a “strong candidate for further consideration as a therapeutic drug in reducing the retinal complications of diabetes,” Dr. J. Kyle Krady and colleagues from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey write in the medical journal Diabetes.

Recent evidence has suggested that diabetes leads to ongoing inflammatory activity within the retina, Krady explained. Immune cells called microglia are the main sources of inflammation in the retina, and “therefore represent an important target for reducing this inflammation.”

Minocycline is a second-generation tetracycline, and it has anti-inflammatory effects separate from its anti-bacterial action.

From their animal experiments, Krady’s team found that “microglial activation within the retina occurs early in the course of diabetes. They also saw that diabetes leads to nerve-cell deaths within the retina, “and that minocycline treatment reduces these events.”

Further research is needed to see if minocycline can prevent or reduce diabetes-induced retinal damage, Krady added. Nonetheless, “We believe compounds, like minocycline, which can affect microglial activation may represent an important therapeutic target for this disease.”

SOURCE: Diabetes, May 2005.

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