Comparing and Contrasting the Effects of the SGLT Inhibitors Canagliflozin and Empagliflozin on the Progression of Retinopathy

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Background: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a leading cause of end-stage blindness globally and is arguably one of the most disabling complications of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Sodium Glucose Cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors have now been successfully introduced to clinical medicine and exert multiple beneficial effects in diabetic patients. Given the broad therapeutic application of SGLT2 inhibitors, we hypothesised that SGLT2 inhibition may alleviate the progression of DR. Therefore, we aimed to compare the effectiveness of two clinically available SGLT2 inhibitors, Empagliflozin and Canagliflozin, on the progression of Retinopathy and DR using well-characterised mouse models, Kimba and Akimba, respectively. Methods: Empagliflozin, Canagliflozin (25 mg/kg/day) or vehicle was administered to 10-week-old mice via drinking water for 8-weeks. Urine glucose levels were measured to ascertain SGLT2 inhibition promoted glucose excretion. Weekly body weight and water intake measurements were obtained. After 8-weeks of treatment, body weight, daily water intake, fasting blood glucose levels were measured and eye tissue was harvested. The retinal vasculature was assessed using immunofluorescence. Results: Empagliflozin treated Akimba mice exhibited metabolic benefits suggested by healthy body weight gain and significantly reduced fasting blood glucose levels. Treatment with Empagliflozin reduced retinal vascular lesions in both Kimba and Akimba mice. Canagliflozin improved body weight gain, reduced blood glucose levels in Akimba mice, and reduced the development of retinal vascular lesions in Kimba mice. Conclusions: Our data demonstrates that Empagliflozin has future potential as a therapeutic for Retinopathy and DR and should now be considered for human trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience - Landmark
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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