Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Carol Hirschmugl

Committee Members

Valerica Raicu, Mahsa Ranji, Peter Schwander, Nader Sheibani


Chemical Imaging, Diabetes, Infrared, Multivariate Analysis, Pathogenesis, Spectroscopy


Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a microvascular complication of diabetes and a leading cause of adult vision loss. Although a great deal of progress has been made in ophthalmological examinations and clinical approaches to detect the signs of retinopathy in patients with diabetes, there still remain outstanding questions regarding the molecular and biochemical changes involved. To discover the biochemical mechanisms underlying the development and progression of changes in the retina as a result of diabetes, a more comprehensive understanding of the bio-molecular processes, in individual retinal cells subjected to hyperglycemia, is required. Animal models provide a suitable resource for temporal detection of the underlying pathophysiological and biochemical changes associated with DR, which is not fully attainable in human studies. In the present study, I aimed to determine the nature of diabetes-induced, highly localized biochemical changes in the retinal tissue from Ins2Akita/+ (Akita/+; a model of Type I diabetes) male mice with different duration of diabetes. Employing label-free, spatially resolved Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) imaging engaged with chemometric tools enabled me to identify temporal-dependent reproducible biomarkers of the diabetic retinal tissue from mice with 6 or 12 weeks, and 6 or 10 months of diabetes. I report, for the first time, the origin of molecular changes in the biochemistry of individual retinal layers with different duration of diabetes. A robust classification between distinctive retinal layers - namely photoreceptor layer (PRL), outer plexiform layer (OPL), inner nuclear layer (INL), and inner plexiform layer (IPL) - and associated temporal-dependent spectral biomarkers, were delineated. Spatially-resolved super resolution chemical images revealed oxidative stress-induced structural and morphological alterations within the nucleus of the photoreceptors. Comparison among the PRL, OPL, INL, and IPL suggested that the photoreceptor layer is the most susceptible layer to the oxidative stress with short-duration of diabetes. Moreover, for the first time, we present the temporal-dependent molecular alterations for the PRL, OPL, INL, and IPL from Akita/+ mice, with progression of diabetes. These findings are potentially important and may be of particular benefit in understanding the molecular and biological activity of retinal cells during oxidative stress in diabetes. Our integrating paradigm provides a new conceptual framework and a significant rationale for a better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the development and progression of DR. This approach may yield alternative and potentially complimentary methods for the assessment of diabetes changes. It is expected that the conclusions drawn from this work will bridge the gap in our knowledge regarding the biochemical mechanisms of the DR and address some critical needs in the biomedical community.