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Lipid found in eye may help prevent diabetic retinopathy

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Lipids have a bad reputation when it comes to heart disease and high cholesterol, but there is one lipid found in the eye that can actually help prevent diabetic retinopathy.

This good lipid is produced by an enzyme known as ELOVL4. Recent study results concerning this enzyme and the lipids were published in the journal Diabetes. In the case of diabetic patients, ELOVL4 is suppressed interfering with its ability to produce the good lipid, which in turn causes additional damage to the retina. In healthy retinas, the blood vessels are connected by tight junctions, which are almost impenetrable but in the case of diabetic patients, the blood vessels are damaged by unhealthy amounts of lipids that affect the balance of nutrients delivered throughout the body. Researchers are currently working to determine what the lipids are actually able to do when they are in the tight junctions of the retina so that new therapies can be developed.

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