The asthma medication montelukast, also known as Singulair, can inhibit early changes in diabetic retinopathy, the eye disease which develops due to diabetes, in a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes, according to early research in mice models.
The researchers from University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that the drug Singulair was able to disrupt the signaling of inflammatory molecules called leukotrienes in mice.
“This disruption significantly reduced small blood vessel and nerve damage that we see in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy,” says senior author Dr. Rose Gubitosi-Klug, chief of pediatric endocrinology at UH Rainbow and the William T. Dahms Professor of Pediatrics at CWRU School of Medicine.
While most therapies target the late stages of the eye disease in diabetes, Gubitosi-Klug says these findings offer a much-needed approach to treat the disease much earlier.
“The re-purposing of a medication already FDA-approved for use in children and adolescents sets the stage for rapid translation of these animal model findings to human subjects,” says Gubitosi-Klug.
She says the daily dose equivalent used in the current study is similar to the once-daily dose used in the treatment of asthma.
Reassuringly, Gubitosi-Klugin says in their diabetes model, the dose allows effective suppression of chronic inflammation, which can prevent pathology but avoids complete inhibition of inflammation, which can compromise innate immunity.
“Moreover, montelukast was efficacious in both prevention and delayed intervention approaches, which implies relevance to patients with newly-diagnosed diabetes as well as individuals living with diabetes of longer duration,” she says.
“Thus, there is the promise that a safe treatment that effectively stabilizes airways in asthma may also preserve small blood vessels and nerve cells in diabetes.”
The study was funded by the National Eye Institute.
The study is published in the journal Diabetes.
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. (2019, July 29). Asthma medication inhibits changes in diabetic retinopathy in type 1 diabetes mouse. EurekAlert! Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/uhcm-ami072619.php.