Within the central nervous system, pericyte degeneration in diabetes mellitus occurs only in the retinal microcirculation and is not seen in the brain. This study sought to elucidate differences between bovine retinal and brain pericytes. When pairs of retinal and brain pericytes from individual calves were cultured in vitro, the morphological organisation of early post-confluent retinal pericyte cultures was consistently different from that of brain pericyte cultures. When retinal and brain pericyte cultures were grown to second passage in high or normal glucose medium supplemented with fetal calf serum, brain pericyte cultures grew significantly faster than retinal pericytes in either medium (p<0.0001). Brain pericytes thus appeared to grow intrinsically faster than retinal pericytes and this effect was largely independent of glucose concentration. Brain pericytes also grew faster than retinal pericytes in high glucose medium containing human diabetic or control serum (p<0.002). The proliferative effect of serum from diabetic patients with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy on pericytes grown in high glucose medium was not significantly different from that of control serum. Both brain and retinal pericytes showed variation in their ability to replicate in high concentrations of glucose. The selectivity of pericyte degeneration to the retinal circulation does not appear to be due to changes in the mitogenic activity of diabetic serum for retinal pericytes, but may relate to the intrinsic relative inability of the retinal pericyte to reproliferate in response to the metabolic injury of diabetes mellitus.
- diabetic serum
- growth rates