Glucose Transporters in Retinal Pigment Epithelium Development

  • Lawrence J. Rizzolo
Part of the Ophthalmology Research book series (OPHRES)


The retina relies on glucose for metabolic energy, but unlike systemic endothelia, the endothelia and epithelia of the blood–brain barrier allow little glucose to diffuse across their paracellular spaces. To compensate, these cells express high levels of glucose transporters to facilitate transcellular transport. One region, the outer blood–retinal barrier, has an unusual structure. The choroidal capillaries are fenestrated, and the barrier is formed by the overlying retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The development of RPE is closely coordinated with the development of the neural retina and the choriocapillaris. Early in development, the RPE expresses basal levels of various members of the GLUT family of glucose transporters. Then, tight junctions begin to form and start to restrict paracellular diffusion. Late in development, as tight junctions become tighter still, the expression of GLUT1, GLUT11, and SGLT1 increases. This suggests that, early in development, a collection of GLUT family members serves the needs of the RPE for metabolic energy, but certain members are better suited for the level of transepithelial transport required to serve the needs of the neural retina. This change in expression also correlates with increased infolding of the RPE basal plasma membrane and the formation of fenestrae in the choriocapillaris.


Tight Junction Retinal Pigment Epithelium Retinal Pigment Epithelium Cell Transepithelial Electrical Resistance Neural Retina 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank Ru Sun and Matthew Weitzman for critically reviewing the manuscript. Work in the author's laboratory was supported by National Institutes of Health grant EY08694 (LJR) and CORE grant EY00785 (Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale University).


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© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence J. Rizzolo
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Surgery and of Ophthalmology and Visual ScienceYale University School of MedicineNew HavenCT

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