Genetic components in diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a serious complication of diabetes, which is fast reaching epidemic proportions worldwide. While tight glycemic control remains the standard of care for preventing the progression of DR, better insights into DR etiology require understanding its genetic basis, which in turn may assist in the design of novel treatments. During the last decade, genomic medicine is increasingly being applied to common multifactorial diseases such as diabetes and age-related macular degeneration. The contribution of genetics to the initiation and progression of DR has been recognized for some time, but the involvement of specific genes and genetic variants remains elusive. Several investigations are currently underway for identifying DR susceptibility loci through linkage studies, candidate gene approaches, and genome-wide association studies. Advent of next generation sequencing and high throughput genomic technologies, development of novel bioinformatics tools and collaborations among research teams should facilitate such investigations. Here, we review the current state of genetic studies in DR and discuss reported findings in the context of biochemical, cell biological and therapeutic advances. We propose the development of a consortium in India for genetic studies with large cohorts of patients and controls from limited geographical areas to stratify the impact of the environment. Uniform guidelines should be established for clinical phenotyping and data collection. These studies would permit identification of genetic loci for DR susceptibility in the Indian population and should be valuable for better diagnosis and prognosis, and for clinical management of this blinding disease.

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