Angiogenesis inhibitors may treat diabetic retinopathy

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Loss of the angiogenesis inhibitor in the eye, pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), plus the increased expression of angiogenic growth factors appears to be responsible for the development of diabetic retinopathy. The finding, reported in the December issue of Diabetes, suggests that angiogenesis inhibitors might be effective in treating diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Joachim Spranger from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam, Bergholz-Rehbrucke, and colleagues studied the in vivo regulation of PEDF in 19 patients without proliferative diabetic retinopathy, 37 patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and 8 patients with neovascularizing eye disease.

In patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, concentrations of PEDF were significantly lower compared with normal retinas (p < 0.001). The same was true in patients with nondiabetic retinal neovascularization caused by occlusion of the retinal vein, the researchers found.

Immunohistochemistry revealed intense interstitial staining patterns for PEDF in the retinas of patients without proliferative eye disease, but little or no staining among patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the investigators note.

Dr. Spranger and colleagues conclude that "our data might potentially induce further investigations into the effectiveness of PEDF substitution in humans. Further characterizations of ischemia-regulated PEDF expression and its biological effects should offer hopeful new therapeutic approaches to prevent blindness in patients with neovascularizing eye disease."

Diabetes 2001;50:2641-2645.

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