The opioid growth factor (OGF)–OGF receptor (OGFr) pathway is present in the ocular surface and functions to maintain homeostasis of the epithelium. The OGF–OGFr pathway has been reported to be dysregulated in diabetic individuals and animal models, and is reflected in elevations of the inhibitory growth factor, OGF, chemically termed [Met5]-enkephalin. Recently, our laboratory reported elevated levels of OGF and OGFr in the serum and corneal epithelium of type 1 diabetic rats, suggesting that dysregulation of the OGF–OGFr axis may lead to dry eye, abnormal corneal surface sensitivity, and delayed re-epithelialization. Blockade of OGF–OGFr pathway using naltrexone, a potent opioid receptor antagonist, reverses dry eye symptoms and restores corneal surface sensitivity in diabetic rats when used as a therapy. Based on the evidence that both OGF and OGFr are elevated in type 1 diabetic rats, this study examined whether systemic or topical naltrexone treatment initiated at the time of induction of hyperglycemia could protect against the development of diabetic ocular surface complications. Diabetic male Sprague-Dawley rats treated systemically or topically with naltrexone had a delayed onset of dry eye and altered corneal surface sensitivity, and an improved healing rate for corneal wounds, that were comparable to non-diabetic rats. Serum levels of OGF were normal for rats receiving systemic naltrexone, and OGF tissue levels were normal for type 1 diabetic rats receiving twice daily naltrexone drops. OGFr levels remained elevated. These data support the role of the OGF–OGFr axis in regulation of ocular surface complications, and suggest that naltrexone therapy may be beneficial for pre-diabetic and early diabetic individuals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)