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Untargeted metabolomic analysis of aqueous humor in diabetic macular edema.

  • Chu, Kai On1, 2
  • Chan, Tina InLam1
  • Chan, Kwok Ping1
  • Yip, Yolanda WongYing1
  • Bakthavatsalam, Malini1
  • Wang, Chi Chiu2, 3, 4
  • Pang, Chi Pui1
  • Brelen, Marten E1
  • 1 Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • 2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • 3 Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Science, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • 4 School of Biomedical Sciences, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
Published Article
Molecular vision
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
PMID: 36284671


The mechanism of diabetic macular edema (DME) was explored by comparing the intraocular metabolite profiles of the aqueous humor of patients with DME to those of diabetic patients without DME using untargeted metabolomic analysis. Aqueous samples from 18 type 2 diabetic patients with DME and 18 type 2 diabetic patients without DME used as controls were analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LCMS). The two groups of patients were age and gender matched and had no systemic diseases other than diabetes mellitus (DM). The metabolites were analyzed using orthogonal partial least square discriminant analysis. The metabolite profiles in DME patients differed from those in DM controls. This indicates the following metabolic derangements in DME: (a) a higher amount of oxidized fatty acids but a lower amount of endogenous antioxidants (oxidative stress); (b) higher levels of β-glucose and homocysteine but a lower level of sorbitol (hyperglycemia); (c) a higher amount of prostaglandin metabolites (inflammation); (d) higher amounts of acylcarnitines, odd-numbered fatty acids, and 7,8-diaminononanoate (respiration deterioration); (e) a higher amount of neurotransmitter metabolites and homovanillic acid (neuronal damage); (f) a lower amount of extracellular matrix (ECM) constituents (ECM deterioration); and (g) a higher amount of di-amino peptides (microvascular damage). The change in the metabolic profiles in the aqueous humor of DME patients compared to DM controls without DME indicates that DME patients may have less capability to resist various stresses or damaging pathological conditions, such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial insufficiency, inflammation, and ECM deterioration. Copyright © 2022 Molecular Vision.

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