Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Expression in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium Is Essential for Choriocapillaris Development and Visual Function

Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 188 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA.
American Journal Of Pathology (Impact Factor: 4.59). 12/2005; 167(5):1451-9. DOI: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61231-X
Source: PubMed


The choroid in the eye provides vascular support for the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the photoreceptors. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) derived from the RPE has been implicated in the physiological regulation of the choroidal vasculature, and overexpression of VEGF in this epithelium has been considered an important factor in the pathogenesis of choroidal neovascularization in age-related macular degeneration. Here, we demonstrate that RPE-derived VEGF is essential for choriocapillaris development. Conditional inactivation of VEGF expression in the RPE (in VEGFrpe-/- mice) results in the absence of choriocapillaris, occurrence of microphthalmia, and the loss of visual function. Severe abnormalities of RPE cells are already observed when VEGF expression in the RPE is only reduced (in VEGFrpe+/- mice), despite the formation of choroidal vessels at these VEGF levels. Finally, using Hif1arpe-/- mice we demonstrate that these roles of VEGF are not dependent on hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha-mediated transcriptional regulation of VEGF expression in the RPE. Thus, hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha-independent expression of VEGF is essential for choroid development.

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    • "Choroidal VEGF is secreted from the RPE, diffuses through Bruch's membrane and enters the choriocapillaris (Saint-Geniez et al. 2006). The choroidal effects of VEGF include increase in permeability, angiogenesis and maintenance of the choroidal vasculature (Marneros et al. 2005). In injected eyes, the decrease in CT was more prominent at the peripapillary area. "

    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Acta ophthalmologica
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    • "Interestingly, the NRV2 neovessels were found to have fenestrations similar to the choriocapillaris (Fig. 7E, F). Previous reports show that RPE cells play an essential role in the development and maintenance of fenestrated choroidal vasculature [31]. RPE cells are also reported to have the ability to induce fenestrations in endothelial cells of retinal vessels by encapsulating them [32]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Vision loss due to vascular disease of the retina is a leading cause of blindness in the world. Retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP) is a subgroup of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), whereby abnormal blood vessels develop in the retina leading to debilitating vision loss and eventual blindness. The novel mouse strain, neoretinal vascularization 2 (NRV2), shows spontaneous fundus changes associated with abnormal neovascularization. The purpose of this study is to characterize the induction of pathologic angiogenesis in this mouse model. Methods The NRV2 mice were examined from postnatal day 12 (p12) to 3 months. The phenotypic changes within the retina were evaluated by fundus photography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and immunohistochemical and electron microscopic analysis. The pathological neovascularization was imaged by confocal microscopy and reconstructed using three-dimensional image analysis software. Results We found that NRV2 mice develop multifocal retinal depigmentation in the posterior fundus. Depigmented lesions developed vascular leakage observed by fluorescein angiography. The spontaneous angiogenesis arose from the retinal vascular plexus at postnatal day (p)15 and extended toward retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). By three months of age, histological analysis revealed encapsulation of the neovascular lesion by the RPE in the photoreceptor cell layer and subretinal space. Conclusions The NRV2 mouse strain develops early neovascular lesions within the retina, which grow downward towards the RPE beginning at p15. This retinal neovascularization model mimics early stages of human retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP) and will likely be a useful in elucidating targeted therapeutics for patients with ocular neovascular disease.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) were raised and maintained at 28°C on a 14 h light/10 h dark cycle according to standard procedures [35]. Embryos were obtained through natural spawning and staged by time and morphological criteria [36]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Ocular neovascularization is a common pathology associated with human eye diseases e.g. age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Blindness represents one of the most feared disabilities and remains a major burden to health-care systems. Current approaches to treat ocular neovascularisation include laser photocoagulation, photodynamic therapy and anti-VEGF therapies: Ranibizumab (Lucentis) and Aflibercept (Eylea). However, high clinical costs, frequent intraocular injections, and increased risk of infections are challenges related with these standards of care. Thus, there is a clinical need to develop more effective drugs that overcome these challenges. Here, we focus on an alternative approach by quantifying the in vivo anti-angiogenic efficacy of combinations of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway inhibitors. The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway is a complex signalling pathway involved in crucial cellular functions such as cell proliferation, migration and angiogenesis. RT-PCR confirms the expression of PI3K target genes (pik3ca, pik3r1, mtor and akt1) in zebrafish trunks from 6 hours post fertilisation (hpf) and in eyes from 2 days post fertilisation (dpf). Using both the zebrafish intersegmental vessel and hyaloid vessel assays to measure the in vivo anti-angiogenic efficacy of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway inhibitors, we identified 5 µM combinations of i) NVP-BEZ235 (dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitor) + PI-103 (dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitor); or ii) LY-294002 (pan-PI3K inhibitor) + NVP-BEZ235; or iii) NVP-BEZ235 + rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor); or iv) LY-294002 + rapamycin as the most anti-angiogenic. Treatment of developing larvae from 2-5 dpf with 5 µM NVP-BEZ235 plus PI-103 resulted in an essentially intact ocular morphology and visual behaviour, whereas other combinations severely disrupted the developing retinal morphology and visual function. In human ARPE19 retinal pigment epithelium cells, however, no significant difference in cell number was observed following treatment with the inhibitor combinations. Collectively, these results highlight the potential of combinations of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway inhibitors to safely and effectively treat ocular neovascularization.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · PLoS ONE
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