Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, KSA, Saudi Arabia.
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the major complications of diabetes causing vision loss and blindness worldwide. DR is widely recognized as a neurodegenerative disease as evidenced from early changes at cellular and molecular levels in the neuronal component of the diabetic retina, which is further supported by various retinal functional tests indicating functional deficits in the retina soon after diabetes progression. Diabetes alters the level of a number of neurodegenerative metabolites, which increases influx through several metabolic pathways which in turn induce an increase in oxidative stress and a decrease in neurotrophic factors, thereby damage retinal neurons. Loss of neurons may implicate in vascular pathology, a clinical signs of DR observed at later stages of the disease. Here, we discuss diabetesinduced potential metabolites known to be detrimental to neuronal damage and their mechanism of action. In addition, we highlight important neurotrophic factors, whose level have been found to be dysregulated in diabetic retina and may damage neurons. Furthermore, we discuss potential drugs and strategies based on targeting diabetes-induced metabolites, metabolic pathways, oxidative stress, and neurotrophins to protect retinal neurons, which may ameliorate vision loss and vascular damage in DR.