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1.  Protective Effect of Perindopril on Diabetic Retinopathy Is Associated With Decreased Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor–to–Pigment Epithelium–Derived Factor Ratio 
Diabetes  2009;58(4):954-964.
OBJECTIVE
This study aimed to verify whether the decreased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)–to–pigment epithelium–derived factor (PEDF) ratio can serve as an indicator for the protective effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) on diabetic retinopathy (DR) and to investigate the role of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the downregulated VEGF-to-PEDF ratio.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Diabetic rats and control animals were randomly assigned to receive perindopril or vehicle for 24 weeks, and bovine retinal capillary endothelial cells (BRECs) were incubated with normal or high glucose with or without perindopril. VEGF, PEDF, PPARγ, and uncoupling protein-2 (UCP-2) in the rat retinas or BREC extracts were examined by Western blotting and real-time RT-PCR. The levels of VEGF and PEDF in cell culture media were examined by ELISA. Mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and ROS production were assayed using JC-1 or CM-H2DCFDA.
RESULTS
The VEGF-to-PEDF ratio was increased in the retina of diabetic rats; perindopril lowered the increased VEGF-to-PEDF ratio in diabetic rats and ameliorated the retinal damage. In BRECs, perindopril lowered the hyperglycemia-induced elevation of VEGF-to-PEDF ratio by reducing mitochondrial ROS. We found the decreased ROS production was a result of perindopril-induced upregulation of PPARγ and UCP-2 expression and the subsequent decrease of Δψm.
CONCLUSIONS
It is concluded that the protective effect of ACEI on DR is associated with a decreased VEGF-to-PEDF ratio, which involves the mitochondria-ROS pathway through PPARγ-mediated changes of UCP-2. This study paves a way for future application of ACEI in treatment of DR.
doi:10.2337/db07-1524
PMCID: PMC2661575  PMID: 19188429
2.  Improvement of Retinal Vascular Injury in Diabetic Rats by Statins Is Associated With the Inhibition of Mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species Pathway Mediated by Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor γ Coactivator 1α 
Diabetes  2010;59(9):2315-2325.
OBJECTIVE
Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) plays a key role in diabetic retinopathy (DR) pathogenesis. However, whether simvastatin decreases diabetes-induced mitochondrial ROS production remains uncertain. The aim of this study was to clarify the beneficial effects and mechanism of action of simvastatin against diabetes-induced retinal vascular damage.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Diabetic rats and control animals were randomly assigned to receive simvastatin or vehicle for 24 weeks, and bovine retinal capillary endothelial cells (BRECs) were incubated with normal or high glucose with or without simvastatin. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) in the rat retinas or BRECs were examined by Western blotting and real-time RT-PCR, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), and p38 MAPK were examined by Western blotting. Mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and ROS production were assayed using the potentiometric dye 5,5′,6,6′- Tetrachloro1,1′,3,3′-tetraethyl-benzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide (JC-1) or CM-H2DCFDA fluorescent probes.
RESULTS
Simvastatin significantly upregulated PGC-1α (P < 0.01), subsequently decreased Δψm (P < 0.05) and ROS generation (P < 0.01), inhibited PARP activation (P < 0.01), and further reduced VEGF expression (P < 0.01) and p38 MAPK activity (P < 0.01). Those changes were associated with the decrease of retinal vascular permeability, retinal capillary cells apoptosis, and formation of acellular capillaries.
CONCLUSIONS
Simvastatin decreases diabetes-induced mitochondrial ROS production and exerts protective effects against early retinal vascular damage in diabetic rats in association with the inhibition of mitochondrial ROS/PARP pathway mediated by PGC-1α. The understanding of the mechanisms of action of statins has important implications in the prevention and treatment of mitochondrial oxidative stress-related illness such as DR.
doi:10.2337/db10-0638
PMCID: PMC2927955  PMID: 20566666
3.  Persistent Suppression of Ocular Neovascularization with Intravitreal Administration of AAVrh.10 Coding for Bevacizumab 
Human Gene Therapy  2011;22(12):1525-1535.
Abstract
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Bevacizumab, an anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody, is efficacious for these disorders, but requires monthly intravitreal administration, with associated discomfort, cost, and adverse event risk. We hypothesized that a single intravitreal administration of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector expressing bevacizumab would result in persistent eye expression of bevacizumab and suppress VEGF-induced retinal neovascularization. We constructed an AAV rhesus serotype rh.10 vector to deliver bevacizumab (AAVrh.10BevMab) and assessed its ability to suppress neovascularization in transgenic mice overexpressing human VEGF165 in photoreceptors. Intravitreal AAVrh.10BevMab directed long-term bevacizumab expression in the retinal pigmented epithelium. Treated homozygous mice had reduced levels of neovascularization, with 90±4% reduction 168 days following treatment. Thus, a single administration of AAVrh.10BevMab provides long-term suppression of neovascularization without the costs and risks associated with the multiple administrations required for the current conventional bevacizumab monoclonal drug delivery.
Mao and colleagues demonstrate that a single injection of an adeno-associated viral vector based on rhesus serotype 10 into the vitreous is capable of expressing an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibody in the eye and suppressing retinal neovascularization.
doi:10.1089/hum.2011.090
PMCID: PMC3278820  PMID: 21801028
4.  Translocation of H-Ras and its implications in the development of diabetic retinopathy 
H-Ras, a small molecular weight G- protein, undergoes post-translational modifications enabling its translocation from cytosol to the membrane. Hyperglycemia increases apoptosis of retinal capillary cells via activation of H-Ras, which can be ameliorated by farnesylation inhibitors. Our aim is to investigate the mechanism of retinal H-Ras activation in diabetes. H-Ras and Raf-1 were quantified in the retinal membrane and cytosol fractions obtained from streptozotocin-induced diabetes rats, and the role of post-translation modification was determined by investigating the effect of simvastatin on diabetes-induced alterations. The effect of H-Ras-siRNA on membrane translocation and apoptosis was also determined in bovine retinal endothelial cells (BRECs). Diabetes increased expressions of H-Ras and Raf-1 in the retinal membranes, and simvastatin prevented such translocation. Glucose-exposure of BRECs increased membrane H-Ras expression and H-Ras-siRNA prevented this translocation, and also decreased their apoptosis. Thus membrane translocation of H-Ras is a plausible mechanism responsible for accelerated apoptosis of retinal capillary cells in diabetes.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.07.038
PMCID: PMC2744948  PMID: 19607814
5.  Ranibizumab efficiently blocks migration but not proliferation induced by growth factor combinations including VEGF in retinal endothelial cells 
Background
Proliferation and migration of retinal endothelial cells (REC) are associated with the development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy. REC proliferation is stimulated by isoforms of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (i.e., VEGF121 and VEGF165), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) of which VEGF165 also enhances migration of REC. Effects induced by VEGF-A can be blocked with ranibizumab, a VEGF-binding Fab fragment used in therapy of diabetic macular edema. In this study, we investigated potential angiogenic effects of placental growth factors (PlGF-1, PlGF-2) as other members of the VEGF family and whether the primary action of VEGF165 is modulated in the presence of bFGF, IGF-1 and PlGF-1/-2. We also studied how effects of growth factor combinations can be attenuated with ranibizumab.
Methods
Effects of single growth factors or their combinations on proliferation and migration of immortalized bovine retinal endothelial cells (iBREC) were studied with or without ranibizumab or the inhibitor of VEGF receptors KRN951.
Results
Proliferation of iBREC was significantly stimulated by 1–100 ng/ml PlGF-1 or PlGF-2, but additive effects were not observed with various combinations of the tested growth factors. Ranibizumab neutralized VEGF’s effect on proliferation but was not effective when the other growth factors were used in combination with VEGF. bFGF and IGF-1 but not PlGF-1 or PlGF-2 stimulated iBREC migration as single agents, and they further enhanced VEGF-induced migration. The effects of such growth factor combinations including VEGF on migration were efficiently blocked by targeting only VEGF with ranibizumab. Migration induced by VEGF plus bFGF and IGF-1 was also almost completely inhibited by KRN951 interfering with VEGF receptor signalling.
Conclusions
Migration but not proliferation of iBREC induced by combinations of bFGF, IGF-1, PlGF-1 or PlGF-2 together with VEGF is efficiently suppressed by ranibizumab. VEGF-mediated signalling through VEGFR2 seems to control REC migration dominantly in the presence of other growth factors.
doi:10.1007/s00417-013-2393-5
PMCID: PMC3777160  PMID: 23760670
Retinal endothelial cells; Growth factors; Ranibizumab; Migration; Proliferation; Proliferative diabetic retinopathy
6.  Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase in Retinal Microvasculature: Implications for the Development and Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy 
GAPDH is one of the important targets of hyperglycemia-induced changes in the retinal microvasculature.
Purpose.
Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) has been hypothesized as a mediator in the activation of multiple pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. The objective of this study was to understand the mechanism by which high glucose inactivates GAPDH in retinal microvascular cells.
Methods.
Bovine retinal endothelial cells (BRECs), transfected with GAPDH, were incubated in 20 mM glucose. The effect of the overexpression of GAPDH on its activity, apoptosis, and upstream signaling pathways, protein kinase C, and hexosamine pathways was determined. The effect of the inhibitors of nitration and ribosylation on GAPDH activity, its nuclear translocation and reversal of glucose insult was also evaluated.
Results.
High glucose decreased GAPDH activity, expression, and nuclear translocation. Overexpression of GAPDH prevented glucose-induced inhibition of its activity, nuclear translocation, apoptosis, and activation of protein kinase C and hexosamine pathways. Inhibitors of nitration and ribosylation ameliorated glucose-induced inhibition of GAPDH, and their addition during the normal glucose exposure that followed high glucose levels had a beneficial effect on GAPDH activity and the degree of nitration and ribosylation.
Conclusions.
In hyperglycemia, GAPDH in retinal microvascular cells is inhibited by its covalent modifications, and this activates multiple pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. The agents that can directly target modification of GAPDH have potential in inhibiting the development and in arresting the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
doi:10.1167/iovs.09-4171
PMCID: PMC3258980  PMID: 19875652
7.  Advanced glycation end products increase retinal vascular endothelial growth factor expression. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(6):1219-1224.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are linked with the development of diabetic retinopathy; however, the pathogenic mechanisms are poorly defined. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels are increased in ischemic and nonischemic diabetic retina, and VEGF is required for the development of retinal and iris neovascularization. Moreover, VEGF alone can induce much of the concomitant pathology of diabetic retinopathy. In this study, we found that AGEs increased VEGF mRNA levels in the ganglion, inner nuclear, and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell layers of the rat retina. In vitro, AGEs increased VEGF mRNA and secreted protein in human RPE and bovine vascular smooth muscle cells. The AGE-induced increases in VEGF expression were dose- and time-dependent, inhibited by antioxidants, and additive with hypoxia. Use of an anti-VEGF antibody blocked the capillary endothelial cell proliferation induced by the conditioned media of AGE-treated cells. AGEs may participate in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy through their ability to increase retinal VEGF gene expression.
PMCID: PMC508675  PMID: 9502762
8.  VEGF-A165b Is Cytoprotective and Antiangiogenic in the Retina 
The alternative splice variant of VEGF, VEGF165b, is cytoprotective for endothelial and epithelial cells and is antiangiogenic, making it a new candidate for the treatment of ischemic retinopathies.
Purpose.
A number of key ocular diseases, including diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, are characterized by localized areas of epithelial or endothelial damage, which can ultimately result in the growth of fragile new blood vessels, vitreous hemorrhage, and retinal detachment. VEGF-A165, the principal neovascular agent in ocular angiogenic conditions, is formed by proximal splice site selection in its terminal exon 8. Alternative splicing of this exon results in an antiangiogenic isoform, VEGF-A165b, which is downregulated in diabetic retinopathy. Here the authors investigate the antiangiogenic activity of VEGF165b and its effect on retinal epithelial and endothelial cell survival.
Methods.
VEGF-A165b was injected intraocularly in a mouse model of retinal neovascularization (oxygen-induced retinopathy [OIR]). Cytotoxicity and cell migration assays were used to determine the effect of VEGF-A165b.
Results.
VEGF-A165b dose dependently inhibited angiogenesis (IC50, 12.6 pg/eye) and retinal endothelial migration induced by 1 nM VEGF-A165 across monolayers in culture (IC50, 1 nM). However, it also acts as a survival factor for endothelial cells and retinal epithelial cells through VEGFR2 and can stimulate downstream signaling. Furthermore, VEGF-A165b injection, while inhibiting neovascular proliferation in the eye, reduced the ischemic insult in OIR (IC50, 2.6 pg/eye). Unlike bevacizumab, pegaptanib did not interact directly with VEGF-A165b.
Conclusions.
The survival effects of VEGF-A165b signaling can protect the retina from ischemic damage. These results suggest that VEGF-A165b may be a useful therapeutic agent in ischemia-induced angiogenesis and a cytoprotective agent for retinal pigment epithelial cells.
doi:10.1167/iovs.09-4296
PMCID: PMC2910648  PMID: 20237249
9.  A Three-Pore Model Describes Transport Properties of Bovine Retinal Endothelial Cells in Normal and Elevated Glucose 
A three-pore model was developed that describes for the first time, the fractional transport of water and molecular tracers across the retinal endothelial barrier. Experimental results showed that there was no change in permeability or hydraulic conductivity in bovine retinal endothelial cell (BREC) monolayers after exposure to high glucose, whereas VEGF increased permeability under both normal and high-glucose environments. The transport results are consistent with ZO-1 and VE-cadherin immunocytochemistry and the expression of claudin-5, which are all unaltered by high glucose.
Purpose.
Changes in blood vessel barrier properties contribute to retinal edema in diabetic retinopathy (DR). However, limited data are available to describe the routes of transport for fluids and solutes across the inner blood–retinal barrier (iBRB). In this study, a three-pore model was developed to characterize such routes in normal and elevated glucose levels.
Methods.
Diffusive and apparent permeabilities to TAMRA (467 Da), dextran (70 kDa), and LDL (2000 kDa), as well as hydraulic conductivity, were measured across bovine retinal endothelial cell (BREC) monolayers after exposure to normal- and high-glucose media for 6 days. The data were used to develop a model of transport dynamics. Claudin 5 and eNOS Western blot analysis were used to measure changes in expression and phosphorylation. Immunolocalization of ZO-1 and VE-cadherin demonstrated organization of the junctional complex. Apoptosis was measured by TUNEL assay.
Results.
A three-pore model describes the fractional transport of water and molecular tracers across the retinal endothelial barrier. No change in permeability or hydraulic conductivity was observed after exposure to high glucose, whereas VEGF increased permeability in both normal- and high-glucose environments. The transport results were consistent with ZO-1 and VE-cadherin immunocytochemistry and expression of claudin-5, which were all unaltered by high glucose.
Conclusions.
The data describe, for the first time, a model for transport of various size solutes and fluids across endothelial cells of the iBRB. Further, the results support the existence of an indirect pathway by which iBRB permeability is increased through the upregulation of retinal VEGF in response to hyperglycemia.
doi:10.1167/iovs.10-5971
PMCID: PMC3053101  PMID: 21357410
10.  Sirtuin 1–Mediated Cellular Metabolic Memory of High Glucose Via the LKB1/AMPK/ROS Pathway and Therapeutic Effects of Metformin 
Diabetes  2011;61(1):217-228.
Cellular metabolic memory occurs in diabetic microvascular and macrovascular complications, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we investigate the role of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and metformin in this phenomenon. In bovine retinal capillary endothelial cells (BRECs) and retinas of diabetic rats, the inflammatory gene, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), and the proapoptotic gene, Bax, induced by hyperglycemia, remained elevated after returning to normoglycemia. BRECs with small interfering RNA–mediated SIRT1 knockdown had increased sensitivity to hyperglycemia stress, whereas SIRT1 overexpression or activation by metformin inhibited the increase of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species–mediated glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase by poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activity through the upregulation of liver kinase B1/AMP-activated protein kinase (LKB1/AMPK), ultimately suppressing NF-κB and Bax expression. Furthermore, we showed that hyperglycemia led to PARP activation, which in turn may have downregulated SIRT1. Of importance, this study also demonstrated that metformin suppressed the “memory” of hyperglycemia stress in the diabetic retinas, which may be involved in the SIRT1/LKB1/AMPK pathway. Our data suggest that SIRT1 is a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of the cellular metabolic memory, and the use of metformin specifically for such therapy may be a new avenue of investigation in the diabetes field.
doi:10.2337/db11-0416
PMCID: PMC3237662  PMID: 22124463
11.  VEGF Modulation of Retinal Pigment Epithelium Resistance 
Experimental eye research  2007;85(6):762-771.
Fluid accumulation into the subretinal space and the development of macular edema is a common condition in age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and following ocular surgery, or injury. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other cytokines have been implicated in the disruption of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) barrier function and a reduction in the regulated removal of subretinal fluid; however, the cellular and molecular events linking these agents to the disruption of barrier function have not been established. In the current study, cultures of ARPE-19 and primary porcine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells were utilized to investigate the effects of the VEGF-induced modifications to the barrier properties of the RPE. The barrier function was determined by transepithelial resistance (TER) measurements and morphology of the RPE monolayers. In both ARPE-19 and primary porcine RPE cells the administration of VEGF produced a significant drop in TER, and this response was only observed following apical administration. Maximum reduction in TER was reached 5 hours post VEGF administration. These responses were concentration-dependent with an EC50 of 502 pg/mL in ARPE-19 cells and 251 pg/mL in primary porcine cells. In both ARPE-19 and primary RPE cells, the response to VEGF was blocked by pretreatment with the relatively selective VEGF-R2 antagonists, SU5416 or ZM323881, or the protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor, genistein. Administration of the relatively selective VEGF-R2 agonist, VEGF-E, also reduced TER in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 of 474 pg/mL), while VEGF-R1 agonist, placental growth factor (PlGF), did not significantly alter the TER. Immunolocalization studies demonstrated that confluent monolayers exhibited continuous cell-to-cell ZO-1 protein contacts and apical localization of the VEGF-R2 receptors. These data provide evidence that the VEGF-induced breakdown of RPE barrier function is mediated by the activation of apically-oriented VEGF-R2 receptors. Thus, VEGF-mediated increases in RPE permeability are initiated by a rise in intraocular levels of VEGF.
doi:10.1016/j.exer.2007.08.010
PMCID: PMC2199266  PMID: 17915218
RPE; resistance; VEGF; tight junction; macular edema; polarity; receptor
12.  Effects of bevacizumab on the neovascular membrane of proliferative diabetic retinopathy: reduction of endothelial cells and expressions of VEGF and HIF-1α 
Molecular Vision  2012;18:1-9.
Purpose
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents have recently been used intravitreally during the perioperative period for proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). However, the mechanism of theraputic effects of the agents remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effects of intravitreal bevacizumab (IVB) on retinal vascular endothelial cells and expressions of VEGF and hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) in PDR.
Methods
Twenty-four patients with PDR were enrolled and randomized to two groups. Twelve eyes of 12 patients of each group received either an intravitreal injection of 1.25 mg bevacizumab or a sham injection 6 days before vitrectomy. Neovascular membranes (NVMs) were collected during pars plana vitrectomy. The numbers of vascular endothelial cells in the NVMs were counted after staining with hematoxylin and eosin and von Willebrand. The expressions of VEGF and HIF-1α in the NVMs were detected through immunohistochemistry. Ten epiretinal membrane specimens from patients with proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) without IVB treatment were set as an additional control.
Results
The number of vascular endothelial cells in NVMs of the IVB pretreated group was significantly lower than that of the sham group (21.5±3.94 versus 41.33±7.44, p=0.003). The IVB pretreated group also showed significantly lower levels of VEGF and HIF-1α in NVMs than those of the sham group (PHIF-1α=0.02, PVEGF<0.001). A stepwise regression analysis showed that IVB was a significant negative predictor for the numbers of vascular endothelial cells (β=–0.89, p<0.001) and the expressions of VEGF (β=–0.85, p<0.001) and HIF-1α (β=–0.64, p=0.001) in PDR patients. Epiretinal membranes of the PVR group showed negative staining of VEGF and HIF-1α.
Conclusions
Pretreatment with IVB in patients with PDR significantly decreased vascular endothelial cells and expressions of VEGF and HIF-1α, which further supports preoperative use of IVB in such patients.
PMCID: PMC3253067  PMID: 22232563
13.  Candesartan Attenuates Diabetic Retinal Vascular Pathology by Restoring Glyoxalase-I Function 
Diabetes  2010;59(12):3208-3215.
OBJECTIVE
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) are both implicated in the development of diabetic retinopathy. How these pathways interact to promote retinal vasculopathy is not fully understood. Glyoxalase-I (GLO-I) is an enzyme critical for the detoxification of AGEs and retinal vascular cell survival. We hypothesized that, in retina, angiotensin II (Ang II) downregulates GLO-I, which leads to an increase in methylglyoxal-AGE formation. The angiotensin type 1 receptor blocker, candesartan, rectifies this imbalance and protects against retinal vasculopathy.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Cultured bovine retinal endothelial cells (BREC) and bovine retinal pericytes (BRP) were incubated with Ang II (100 nmol/l) or Ang II+candesartan (1 μmol/l). Transgenic Ren-2 rats that overexpress the RAS were randomized to be nondiabetic, diabetic, or diabetic+candesartan (5 mg/kg/day) and studied over 20 weeks. Comparisons were made with diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats.
RESULTS
In BREC and BRP, Ang II induced apoptosis and reduced GLO-I activity and mRNA, with a concomitant increase in nitric oxide (NO•), the latter being a known negative regulator of GLO-I in BRP. In BREC and BRP, candesartan restored GLO-I and reduced NO•. Similar events occurred in vivo, with the elevated RAS of the diabetic Ren-2 rat, but not the diabetic Sprague-Dawley rat, reducing retinal GLO-I. In diabetic Ren-2 rats, candesartan reduced retinal acellular capillaries, inflammation, and inducible nitric oxide synthase and NO•, and restored GLO-I.
CONCLUSIONS
We have identified a novel mechanism by which candesartan improves diabetic retinopathy through the restoration of GLO-I.
doi:10.2337/db10-0552
PMCID: PMC2992784  PMID: 20852029
14.  The Expanding Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Inhibitors in Ophthalmology 
Mayo Clinic Proceedings  2012;87(1):77-88.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays an important role in both physiologic and pathologic angiogenesis and contributes to increased permeability across both the blood-retinal and blood-brain barriers. After 2 decades of extensive research into the VEGF families and receptors, specific molecules have been targeted for drug development, and several medications have received US Food and Drug Administration approval. Bevacizumab, a full-length antibody against VEGF approved for the intravenous treatment of advanced carcinomas, has been used extensively in ophthalmology for exudative age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusions, retinopathy of prematurity, and other chorioretinal vascular disorders. Pegaptanib and ranibizumab have been developed specifically for intraocular use, whereas the soon-to-be-introduced aflibercept (VEGF Trap-Eye) is moving through clinical trials for both intraocular and systemic use. Although these drugs exhibit excellent safety profiles, ocular and systemic complications, particularly thromboembolic events, remain a concern in patients receiving therapy. Patients experiencing adverse events that may be related to VEGF suppression should be carefully evaluated by both the ophthalmologist and the medical physician to reassess the need for intraocular therapy and explore the feasibility of changing medications. For this review a search of PubMed from January 1, 1985 through April 15, 2011, was performed using the following terms (or combination of terms): vascular endothelial growth factors, VEGF, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retina vein occlusions, retinopathy of prematurity, intravitreal injections, bevacizumab, ranibizumab, and VEGF Trap. Studies were limited to those published in English. Other articles were identified from bibliographies of retrieved articles and archives of the author.
doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2011.10.001
PMCID: PMC3498409  PMID: 22212972
15.  TNF-α Signals Through PKCζ/NF-κB to Alter the Tight Junction Complex and Increase Retinal Endothelial Cell Permeability 
Diabetes  2010;59(11):2872-2882.
OBJECTIVE
Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) are elevated in the vitreous of diabetic patients and in retinas of diabetic rats associated with increased retinal vascular permeability. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying retinal vascular permeability induced by these cytokines are poorly understood. In this study, the effects of IL-1β and TNF-α on retinal endothelial cell permeability were compared and the molecular mechanisms by which TNF-α increases cell permeability were elucidated.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Cytokine-induced retinal vascular permeability was measured in bovine retinal endothelial cells (BRECs) and rat retinas. Western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, and immunocytochemistry were performed to determine tight junction protein expression and localization.
RESULTS
IL-1β and TNF-α increased BREC permeability, and TNF-α was more potent. TNF-α decreased the protein and mRNA content of the tight junction proteins ZO-1 and claudin-5 and altered the cellular localization of these tight junction proteins. Dexamethasone prevented TNF-α–induced cell permeability through glucocorticoid receptor transactivation and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) transrepression. Preventing NF-κB activation with an inhibitor κB kinase (IKK) chemical inhibitor or adenoviral overexpression of inhibitor κB alpha (IκBα) reduced TNF-α–stimulated permeability. Finally, inhibiting protein kinase C zeta (PKCζ) using both a peptide and a novel chemical inhibitor reduced NF-κB activation and completely prevented the alterations in the tight junction complex and cell permeability induced by TNF-α in cell culture and rat retinas.
CONCLUSIONS
These results suggest that PKCζ may provide a specific therapeutic target for the prevention of vascular permeability in retinal diseases characterized by elevated TNF-α, including diabetic retinopathy.
doi:10.2337/db09-1606
PMCID: PMC2963546  PMID: 20693346
16.  Preclinical aspects of anti-VEGF agents for the treatment of wet AMD: ranibizumab and bevacizumab 
Eye  2011;25(6):661-672.
Three anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies are currently used for the treatment of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD): pegaptanib, ranibizumab, and bevacizumab. Ranibizumab is an antibody fragment approved for the treatment of wet AMD. Bevacizumab is a full-length antibody registered for use in oncology but unlicensed for wet AMD. However, it is used off-label worldwide not only for wet AMD but also for various other ocular diseases associated with macular edema and abnormal vessel growth. We consider aspects of ranibizumab and bevacizumab in relation to their molecular characteristics, in vitro and in vivo properties, and preclinical safety data. Before 2009, most studies described the short-term toxicity of bevacizumab in multiple cell types of the eye. Since 2009, an increasing number of studies have compared the properties of ranibizumab and bevacizumab and investigated their impact on retinal cell functioning. Compared with bevacizumab, ranibizumab neutralizes VEGF better at low concentrations, maintains efficacy for longer, and has a higher retinal penetration and potency. Studies in animals demonstrate ranibizumab to be better localized to the injected eye, whereas bevacizumab appears to have a greater effect in the fellow eye. In humans, a localized and systemic effect has been reported for both molecules. In conclusion, overlapping yet distinct pharmacological properties of ranibizumab and bevacizumab indicate that safety or efficacy data from one cannot be extrapolated to the other.
doi:10.1038/eye.2011.66
PMCID: PMC3178135  PMID: 21455242
age-related macular degeneration; ranibizumab; bevacizumab; Lucentis; Avastin; VEGF
17.  Retinal vein occlusion and macular edema – critical evaluation of the clinical value of ranibizumab 
Retinal vein occlusions (RVOs) constitute the second most common cause of retinal vascular disease after diabetic retinopathy, with a prevalence of between 1% and 2% in persons older than 40 years of age. Despite the existence of numerous potential therapeutic options, none is entirely satisfactory, and many patients with RVO suffer irreversible visual loss. Fortunately however, the recent introduction of antivascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents, such as ranibizumab (Lucentis®, Genentech, South San Francisco, CA) and bevacizumab (Avastin®, Genentech), offers a potentially new treatment approach for clinicians managing this disorder. The results of the BRAVO and CRUISE trials have provided the first definitive evidence for the efficacy and safety of ranibizumab in the treatment of RVO. As a result, ranibizumab has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of RVO-associated macular edema. In this review, we provide a critical evaluation of clinical trial data for the safety and efficacy of ranibizumab, and address unresolved issues in the management of this disorder.
doi:10.2147/OPTH.S13774
PMCID: PMC3130914  PMID: 21750610
ranibizumab; retinal vein occlusion; vascular endothelial growth factor; macular edema
18.  Ranibizumab in the treatment of patients with visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema 
Diabetic macular edema is the major cause of visual acuity impairment in diabetic patients. The exact etiopathogenesis is unknown and, currently, grid/focal retinal laser photocoagulation represents the recommended treatment. It has been demonstrated that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a key role in the pathogenesis of diabetic macular edema by mediating vascular permeability and accumulation of intracellular and extracellular fluid, and thereby represents an appealing candidate as a therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetic macular edema. The advent of intravitreal anti-VEGF drugs has opened up a new era for the management of diabetic macular edema. At present, three anti-VEGF substances are available for routine clinical use, ie, pegaptanib, ranibizumab, and bevacizumab. The aim of this review is to summarize the evidence supporting the use of ranibizumab in clinical practice. Most of the studies analyzed in this review are prospective, controlled clinical trials that have focused on documenting the therapeutic effect of ranibizumab and its safety, providing encouraging results.
doi:10.2147/OPTH.S17423
PMCID: PMC3180503  PMID: 21966206
ranibizumab; diabetic macular edema; anti-VEGF; diabetic macular edema
19.  Lasting Controversy on Ranibizumab and Bevacizumab 
Theranostics  2011;1:395-402.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an important angiogenic factor that is able to stimulate the proliferation and migration of endothelial cells, is the best-studied hallmark of angiogenesis. Neovascularization is a major cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly population. Specific molecular inhibitors of VEGF have been proved to be useful in the treatment of AMD. Ranibizumab and Bevacizumab are structurally similar to anti-VEGF drugs in the treatment of AMD. Many studies have indicated that Ranibizumab and Bevacizumab are of roughly equal short-term efficacy and safety, Bevacizumab is an attractive alternative to Ranibizumab due to its lower cost. However, only Ranibizumab has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of macular degeneration. More multicenter clinical trials are required to compare the relative efficacy and safety of these two drugs and some progress has been achieved. This review discusses the clinical effectiveness, safety, cost and other practical implications of Ranibizumab and Bevacizumab.
PMCID: PMC3248643  PMID: 22211145
Ranibizumab; Bevacizumab; vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF); age-related macular degeneration; angiogenesis.
20.  Long-term visual outcome of pigment epithelial tears in association with anti-VEGF therapy of pigment epithelial detachment in AMD 
Eye  2011;25(9):1181-1186.
Purpose
Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) tears may develop as a complication after anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) treatment for pigment epithelial detachments (PEDs) in exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This retrospective study analyses best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and foveal involvement after RPE tears that are associated with anti-VEGF therapy due to PED in exudative AMD.
Methods
A total of 37 patients with RPE tears during anti-VEGF therapy (bevacizumab 12, ranibizumab 21 and pegaptanib 4 eyes) for progressive PED in AMD (PED with occult choroidal neovascularization 25 eyes and PED with retinal angiomatous proliferation 12 eyes) were included in this study. We analyzed BCVA and different morphologic aspects by means of appearance on fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography. Mean follow-up was 88 weeks.
Results
RPE tears were diagnosed a mean of 56 days after the first injection. BCVA deteriorated after RPE tear and during follow-up significantly (P<0.001), with 53.2% of eyes being legally blind (WHO, world health organization) at 12 months. RPE-free foveal area, foveal wrinkling of the RPE, and fibrotic scar development were significantly associated with worse visual acuity.
Discussion
RPE tears can be observed in 12–15% of treated eyes during anti-VEGF therapy for PED in exudative AMD. Owing to the close time relationship with the therapy, this complication must be taken into consideration. Visual prognosis is associated with a decrease in vision in the long term, often resulting in a severe visual disability. Relevant factors for a negative visual prognosis were the potential foveal involvement of the central RPE and morphologic fibrovascular transformation of the RPE tear.
doi:10.1038/eye.2011.146
PMCID: PMC3178255  PMID: 21701525
bevacizumab (Avastin); ranibizumab (Lucentis); pegaptanib (Macugen); age-related macular degeneration; retinal pigment epithelium detachment; retinal pigment epithelium tears
21.  Freezing adversely affects measurement of vascular endothelial growth factor levels in human aqueous samples 
Purpose
Aqueous levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can be a surrogate marker of intraocular VEGF activity and a measure of efficacy of anti-VEGF treatment in a variety of vasoproliferative retinal disorders, including diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and central retinal vein occlusion. Measurement of the VEGF level may be adversely affected by premeasurement variables, such as freezing and delay, in sample analysis. We aim to evaluate the effect of storage and delayed measurement of human aqueous VEGF levels in these conditions.
Methods
Aqueous samples collected from patients receiving intravitreal injection of bevacizumab for various retinal diseases were divided into two groups. In Group 1, the VEGF levels were analyzed on the same day; in Group 2, the VEGF levels were analyzed after 21 days of freezer storage (−80°C) using immunobead assay. Statistical comparison using a paired t-test was performed between the two groups.
Results
Thirty-one aqueous humor samples were collected, and the VEGF concentration for fresh samples was 7.8 ± 5.9 pg/mL (mean ± SD) compared to 6.5 ± 6.0 pg/mL in frozen samples, resulting in a statistically significant difference (P = 0.03).
Conclusions
Accurate measurement of the VEGF level is a vital component of clinical decision-making. Delayed analysis of VEGF levels in aqueous samples may result in significant sample degradation and lower levels of measured VEGF.
doi:10.2147/OPTH.S15837
PMCID: PMC3033008  PMID: 21311660
VEGF level; aqueous humor; immunobead assay; VEGF storage
22.  Balancing risk in ophthalmic prescribing: assessing the safety of anti-VEGF therapies and the risks associated with unlicensed medicines 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor medications such as ranibizumab, pegaptanib and bevacizumab are in use for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal conditions, although only ranibizumab and pegaptanib are approved for these conditions. In contrast, bevacizumab was developed for the intravenous systemic treatment of colorectal cancer and is not formulated for intravitreal use, but is commonly used off-label in ophthalmology. European Union legislation permits the use of drugs outside the terms of their licence (‘off-label’) only under certain circumstances, such as during clinical trials, compassionate/named patient use in the absence of a licensed alternative, emergency scenarios (e.g., pandemics) or at the discretion of a treating physician. In such cases, patients should be fully informed regarding their treatment and any potential risks involved. Off-label drug use can be an important tool to provide patients with treatment in cases of unmet medical need. However, the use of an unlicensed medicinal product, when a suitable licensed alternative is available, puts prescribing physicians at risk of liability if safety issues arise. Emerging clinical evidence suggests safety differences exist between ranibizumab and bevacizumab.
doi:10.1007/s00417-012-2123-4
PMCID: PMC3490068  PMID: 23011000
Medication safety; Off-label prescribing; Ranibizumab; Bevacizumab; Age-related macular degeneration
23.  Vasoinhibins prevent retinal vasopermeability associated with diabetic retinopathy in rats via protein phosphatase 2A–dependent eNOS inactivation 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(6):2291-2300.
Increased retinal vasopermeability contributes to diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults. Despite clinical progress, effective therapy remains a major need. Vasoinhibins, a family of peptides derived from the protein hormone prolactin (and inclusive of the 16-kDa fragment of prolactin), antagonize the proangiogenic effects of VEGF, a primary mediator of retinal vasopermeability. Here, we demonstrate what we believe to be a novel function of vasoinhibins as inhibitors of the increased retinal vasopermeability associated with diabetic retinopathy. Vasoinhibins inhibited VEGF-induced vasopermeability in bovine aortic and rat retinal capillary endothelial cells in vitro. In vivo, vasoinhibins blocked retinal vasopermeability in diabetic rats and in response to intravitreous injection of VEGF or of vitreous from patients with diabetic retinopathy. Inhibition by vasoinhibins was similar to that achieved following immunodepletion of VEGF from human diabetic retinopathy vitreous or blockage of NO synthesis, suggesting that vasoinhibins inhibit VEGF-induced NOS activation. We further showed that vasoinhibins activate protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), leading to eNOS dephosphorylation at Ser1179 and, thereby, eNOS inactivation. Moreover, intravitreous injection of okadaic acid, a PP2A inhibitor, blocked the vasoinhibin effect on endothelial cell permeability and retinal vasopermeability. These results suggest that vasoinhibins have the potential to be developed as new therapeutic agents to control the excessive retinal vasopermeability observed in diabetic retinopathy and other vasoproliferative retinopathies.
doi:10.1172/JCI34508
PMCID: PMC2391065  PMID: 18497878
24.  Critical appraisal of ranibizumab in the treatment of diabetic macular edema 
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among individuals of working age in industrialized nations, with most of the vision loss resulting from diabetic macular edema (DME). The formation of DME depends on the action of several growth factors and inflammatory mediators, but vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) appears to be critical for breaking down the blood-retinal barrier and promoting the accumulation of macular edema. Laser photocoagulation has been the standard-of-care for three decades, and although it stabilizes vision, significant gains in visual acuity after treatment are unusual. Several VEGF inhibitors (pegaptanib, aflibercept, and ranibizumab) have been initially developed and tested for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and subsequently for DME. In Phase I, II, and III trials for DME, ranibizumab has been shown to be superior to macular laser photocoagulation and intraocular triamcinolone acetonide injections for improving visual acuity and drying the macula. As a result, ranibizumab is the only anti-VEGF drug that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of DME. Most experts now consider intravitreal anti-VEGF therapy to be standard-of-care for DME involving the fovea.
doi:10.2147/OPTH.S36443
PMCID: PMC3699322  PMID: 23836955
aflibercept; bevacizumab; diabetic macular edema; diabetic retinopathy; ranibizumab; vascular endothelial growth factor
25.  Homocysteinethiolactone and Paraoxonase 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(9):2031-2037.
OBJECTIVE
Paraoxonase (PON) exhibits esterase activity (PON-AREase) and lactonase activity (PON-HCTLase), which prevent LDL oxidation and detoxify homocysteine thiolactone (HCTL). The role of HCTL and PON-HCTLase as a risk factor for the microvascular complication in diabetic retinopathy at the level of vitreous has not been investigated.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Undiluted vitreous from patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) (n = 13) and macular hole (MH) (n = 8) was used to determine PON-HCTLase and PON-AREase activity spectrophotometrically. HCTL levels were detected by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. In vitro studies were done in primary cultures of bovine retinal capillary endothelial cells (BRECs) to determine the dose- and time-dependent effect of HCTL and homocysteine (Hcys) on PON-HCTLase activity, as well as to determine mRNA expression of PON by RT-PCR.
RESULTS
A significant increase in HCTL and PON-HCTLase activity was observed in PDR compared with MH (P = 0.036, P = 0.001), with a significant positive correlation between them (r = 0.77, P = 0.03). The in vitro studies on BRECs showed a dose- and time-dependent increase in the PON-HCTLase activity and mRNA expression of PON2 when exposed to HCTL and Hcys.
CONCLUSIONS
This is the first study showing elevated levels of vitreous HCTL and PON-HCTLase activity in PDR. These elevations are probably a protective effect to eliminate HCTL, which mediates endothelial cell dysfunction. Thus, vitreous levels of HCTL and PON activity can be markers of diabetic retinopathy. The bioinformatics analysis reveals that the structure and function of PON that can be modulated by hyperhomocysteinemia in PDR can affect the dual-enzyme activity of PON.
doi:10.2337/dc10-0132
PMCID: PMC2928358  PMID: 20551012

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