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Archive - Aug 18, 2009

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Elevated Arginase Levels Might Contribute to Diabetic Retinopathy

Work in an animal model system has shown that elevated levels of the enzyme arginase can contribute to vascular eye damage and researchers suggested that therapies to normalize arginase levels could perhaps halt progression of potentially blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy. Because it is possible to measure arginase levels in the blood, the enzyme might also become a biomarker for a disease process that can work silently in the eye for months or even years, said Dr. Ruth Caldwell, the senior author of the report. This work is the first to make the connection between eye disease and arginase, an enzyme known to be a player in cardiovascular disease, the researchers said. Rather than drugs that generally suppress arginase, the researchers want to find new drugs that can restore healthy levels of arginase. "You need arginase. If you don't have it, you are in big trouble," said Dr. R. William Caldwell, also an author of the report. "We want to delineate the events that cause elevation and limit the elevation to prevent the resulting pathology." This work was reported in the August issue of the American Journal of Pathology. [Press release] [AJP abstract]