Palmitoylethanolamide treatment reduces retinal inflammation in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats

Irene Paterniti, Rosanna Di Paola, Michela Campolo, Rosalba Siracusa, Marika Cordaro, Giuseppe Bruschetta, Gemma Tremolada, Anna Maestroni, Francesco Bandello, Emanuela Esposito, Gianpaolo Zerbini, Salvatore Cuzzocrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy (DR) is still insufficiently understood, new evidences indicate 'retinal inflammation' as an important player in the pathogenesis of the complication. Accordingly, common sets of upregulated inflammatory cytokines are found in serum, vitreous and aqueous samples obtained from subjects with DR, and these cytokines can have multiple interactions to impact the pathogenesis of the disease. Thus, based on previously published data, we investigated the effects of Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), an endogenous lipid amide that belongs to the N-acyl-ethanolamines family, on DR in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. PEA (10 mg/kg) was administered orally daily starting 3 days after the iv administration of STZ. The rats were killed 15 and 60 day later and eyes were enucleated to evaluate, through immunohistochemical analysis, the key inflammatory events involved in the breakdown of blood retinal barrier (BRB). Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the presence of VEGF, ICAM-1, nitrotyrosine (a marker of peroxynitrite), and tight junctions in the retina of STZ-treated rats. Of interest, the extent of injury was significantly reduced after treatment with PEA. Altogether, this study provides the first evidence that PEA attenuates the degree of inflammation while preserving the blood-retinal barrier in rats with experimental DR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-323
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2015


  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Inflammation
  • Palmitoylethanolamide
  • Streptozotocin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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