Association of polymorphisms in the vascular endothelial growth factor gene and its serum levels with diabetic retinopathy in Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes: A cross-sectional study
BACKGROUND: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major mediator of angiogenesis, and plays a key role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy (DR). This study was designed to identify the possible role of VEGF gene polymorphisms in the development of DR in type 2 diabetic patients in Chinese and clarify the relationship between VEGF serum levels and the risk of DR. METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 1 040 Chinese subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. There were 372 patients diagnosed with DR in the case group and 668 patients without DR in the control group. DNA from each patient was analyzed for VEGF polymorphisms of -2578A/C (rs699947), -1154G/A (rs1570360), -460C/T (rs833061), +405C/G (rs2010963), and +936C/T (rs3025039) using MassARRAY compact analyzer. The VEGF serum levels were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). RESULTS: No evidence of association was observed between -2578 A/C (rs699947), +405C/G (rs2010963), +936C/T (rs3025039), and DR risk under stringent Bonferroni's correction. However, VEGF serum levels were significantly higher in DR patients than those of control group. The genetic variation of VEGF polymorphisms influenced VEGF serum levels; subjects carrying the VEGF -2578 C/C (rs699947) genotype had greater VEGF serum levels than those carrying the C/A genotype and VEGF serum levels were significantly higher in CC genotype of the +405C/G (rs2010963) compared with those of the other genotypes. CONCLUSIONS: The data did not suggest significant association between the VEGF polymorphisms and DR risk under stringent Bonferroni's correction. However, our study indicated that DR patients have higher VEGF levels than diabetic patients without retinopathy, and -2578A/C (rs699947) and +405C/G (rs2010963) may be important factors in determining serum VEGF levels.