Retinal neovascularization characterizes proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) has been shown to be a major antiangiogenic growth factor in the mammalian eye. PEDF expression is suppressed by hypoxia, and changes in PEDF have been correlated to the development of retinal neovascularization in animal models of hypoxic eye disease. However, whether this concept of a reduced angiogenesis inhibitor holds true in humans is as yet unclear. In this study, we analyzed the in vivo regulation of PEDF in patients with and without hypoxic eye disease. We used immunoblots to measure PEDF in ocular fluids obtained from 64 nondiabetic and diabetic patients. In addition, immunohistochemistry of PEDF was carried out in specimens of normal human retinas and retinas with various degrees of diabetic retinopathy. The PEDF concentrations in patients with PDR (P < 0.001) or extensive nondiabetic retinal neovascularization caused by retinal-vein occlusion (P < 0.001) were lower than in control patients. Levels of PEDF were replenished in PDR patients with previous retinal scatter photocoagulation compared with PDR patients without previous photocoagulation (P = 0.01). Immunohistochemistry revealed an interstitial staining pattern as expected for a secreted protein, with an intense staining in retinas of patients without proliferative eye disease. However, in patients with PDR, little or no staining was detectable. Our data strongly support the concept that retinal angiogenesis is induced by loss of the major angiogenesis inhibitor in the eye, PEDF, in combination with an increased expression of angiogenic growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor. Our findings suggest that substitution of angiogenesis inhibitors may be an effective approach in the treatment of PDR.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism